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Ere our birth (rememberest thou?) side by side we lay
To this end we stormed the seas, tack for tack, and burst Through the doorways of new worlds, doubtful which was first,
Hand on hilt (rememberest thou?) ready for the blowSure, whatever else we met, we should meet our foe. Spurred or balked at every stride by the other's strength, So we rode the ages down and every ocean's length!
Where did you refrain from us or we refrain from you?
That extorted word of praise gasped 'twixt lunge and guard.
Yoked in knowledge and remorse, now we come to rest,
Now we watch the new years shape, wondering if they hold Fiercer lightnings in their heart than we launched of old. Now we hear new voices rise, question, boast or gird,
As we raged (rememberest thou?) when our crowds were
Now we count new keels afloat, and new hosts on land, Massed like ours (rememberest thou?) when our strokes were planned.
We were schooled for dear life's sake, to know each other's blade.
What can Blood and Iron make more than we have made?
Broke to every known mischance, lifted over all
Terrible with strength renewed from a tireless soil;
"BEFORE A MIDNIGHT BREAKS IN STORM"
BEFORE a midnight breaks in storm,
Ye know what wavering gusts inform
The greater tempest's path?
Till the loosed wind
Except Distress, which, so will prophets cry, O'ercame them, houseless, from the unhinting sky.
Ere rivers league against the land
In piratry of flood,
Ye know what waters steal and stand
Where seldom water stood.
Yet who will note,
And washen carcass and the returning well, Trumpet what these poor heralds strove to tell?
Ye know who use the Crystal Ball
Like breath from glass,
But, on the extorted vision bowed intent,
Before the years reborn behold
The all-pregnant sphere,
Bow to the birth and sweat, but-speech deniedSit dumb or dealt in part-fall weak and wide.
Yet instant to fore-shadowed need
The eternal balance swings;
That winged men the Fates may breed
These shall possess
And in the imperial task (as worthy) lay
THE BELL BUOY
THEY christened my brother of old—
At the head of the belfry-stairs,
Would I change with my brother a league inland? (Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!
In the flush of the hot June prime,
I hear him hurry the chime
To the bidding of checked Desire;
And the wild bob-majors die.
Could I wait for my turn in the godly choir? (Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!
When the smoking scud is blown-
He counts the changeless hours.
Would he stoop to my work in the gusty mirk? (Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not he!
There was never a priest to pray,
I rock, I reel, and I rollMy four great hammers ply—
Could I speak or be still at the Church's will? (Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!
The landward marks have failed,
The spent deep feigns her rest:
Could I wait in sloth on the Church's oath? (Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!
At the careless end of night
I thrill to the nearing screw;
And I call to the drowsy crew;
As the blind bow backs away.
Will they give me their thanks if they clear the banks? (Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not they!
The beach-pools cake and skim,
The bursting spray-heads freeze, I gather on crown and rim
The grey, grained ice of the seas, Where, sheathed from bitt to trees, The plunging colliers lie.
Would I barter my place for the Church's grace? (Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!
Through the blur of the whirling snow,
And I look for the homeward fleet.