A Fragment (I) Poem by Philip James Bailey

A Fragment (I)

And Zetland where, betimes, some ruthless wight
Scaling the scaur, in sport the nests despoils
Of auk or gull; they, crowding clamorous round,
Intruded on, insulted, injured, sore
Besiege his ears, until with querulous wing,
One stern and ancient fowl assails his eyes;
His hold gives way; he topples headlong down,
From crag to crag rebounding, till the sea,
For many a ghastly loan responsible,
Seals up the expiring secret; and, avenged,
God's feathered kind scream triumph; him, at home,
Or dame, or mother, by her drowsy wheel,
Expects; and sharpens, through the ominous night,
Her ears, to catch his customary step
Whose ghost now flaunts the breakers, or, far off,
Lamps the lone wold. Or, where, by Jura's isle,
Fond mermaid, hybrid of the earth and sea,
Than fair haired Yseult vainer of her locks,
Erect amid the waves, on caudal curve
Poises her form, weed--girdled; in her hand
Her shadow glassed; she, rivals knowing none,
Beckons the youth belated in his skiff,
Far out of hail of land; seductive, lauds
The quiet cave, surpassing, in sweet gloom,
Earth's superficial glare; her bridal home;
The charm immortal of the foamy sea;
Her dower of pearl and amber; wide domain,
And every joy; oft, over shoulders white
Showering her shining tresses, which, as oft,
The lapping waves displace; but he,--with fear
Half dead, though scarce incurious of the deeps,
Nor to adventure, mostly, disinclined,--
Rows faster, lest the moon set, till he hears
His heart's betrothed, him wailing on the beach.

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