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They hear the loosed White Horses
And, kin of those we crippled,
'What service have ye paid them,
With march and countermarchings-
Trust ye the curdled hollows-
THE SECOND VOYAGE
E'VE sent our little Cupids all ashoreThey were frightened, they were tired, they were cold;
Our sails of silk and purple go to store,
And we've cut away our mast of beaten gold
Oh 'tis hemp and singing pine for to stand against the brine,
But Love he is the master as of old!
The sea has shorn our galleries away,
The salt has soiled our gilding past remede; Our paint is flaked and blistered by the spray, Our sides are half a fathom furred in weed
And the doves of Venus fled and the petrels came instead, But Love he was our master at our need!
'Was Youth would keep no vigil at the bow,
They are old and scarred and plain, but we'll run no risk again
From any Port o' Paphos mutineer!
We seek no more the tempest for delight,
We skirt no more the indraught and the shoalWe ask no more of any day or night
Than to come with least adventure to our goal (Foul weather!)
What we find we needs must brook, but we do not go to look,
Nor tempt the Lord our God that saved us whole!
Yet, caring so, not overly we care
To brace and trim for every foolish blast,
If the squall be pleased to sweep us unaware,
We will blame it on the deep (for the watch must have their sleep),
And Love can come and wake us when 'tis past.
Oh launch them down with music from the beach, Oh warp them out with garlands from the quays— Most resolute-a damsel unto each
New prows that seek the old Hesperides!
Though we know the voyage is vain, yet we see our path
In the saffroned bridesails scenting all the seas!
E have no heart for the fishing, we have no hand for the oar
All that our fathers taught us of old pleases
us now no more;
All that our own hearts bid us believe we doubt where
we do not deny
There is no proof in the bread we eat or rest in the toil we ply.
Look you, our foreshore stretches far through sea-gate, dyke, and groin
Made land all, that our fathers made, where the flats and the fairway join.
They forced the sea a sea-league back. They died, and their work stood fast.
We were born to peace in the lee of the dykes, but the time of our peace is past.
Far off, the full tide clambers and slips, mouthing and testing all,
Nipping the flanks of the water-gates, baying along the wall;
Turning the shingle, returning the shingle, changing the set of the sand
We are too far from the beach, men say, to know how the outworks stand.
So we come down, uneasy, to look, uneasily pacing the beach.
These are the dykes our fathers made: we have never known a breach.
Time and again has the gale blown by and we were not
Now we come only to look at the dykes-at the dykes our fathers made.
O'er the marsh where the homesteads cower apart the harried sunlight flies,
Shifts and considers, wanes and recovers, scatters and sickens and dies
An evil ember bedded in ash-a spark blown west by the wind
We are surrendered to night and the sea-the gale and the tide behind!
At the bridge of the lower saltings the cattle gather and blare,
Roused by the feet of running men, dazed by the lantern
Unbar and let them away for their lives-the levels drown as they stand,
Where the flood-wash forces the sluices aback and the ditches deliver inland.
Ninefold deep to the top of the dykes the galloping breakers stride,
And their overcarried spray is a sea-a sea on the landward side.