My father! in the vague, mysterious past,
My boyish thoughts have wandered o'er and o'er,
To thy lone g s te upon a distant shore.
The wanderer oi the waters, still at last.
Never in childhood have I blithely sprung
To catch my father's voice, or climb his knee;
He was a constant pilgrim of the sea.
And died upon it when his boy was young.
He perished not in conflict nor in flame,
No laurel garland rests upon his tomb;
Yet in stern duty's path he met his doom;
A life heroic, though unwed to fame!
First in vague depths of fancy, scarce defined,
Love limned his wavering likeness on my soul,
Till through slow growths it waxed a perfect whole
Of clear conceptions, brightening heart and mind.
His careless bearing and his face,
His cordial eye; his firm-knit, stalwart form,
Fitted to breast the fight, the wreck, the storm;
The sailor's frankness and the grace.
In dreams, in dreams we've mingled, and a swell
Of feeling mightier for the eyes' eclipse,
The music of a blest Apocalypse,
Thrilled through my spirit with its mystic spell:
Ah, then! ofttimes a sadder scene will rise,
A gallant vessel through the mist bound day,
Lifting her spectral spars above the bay,
Gloomily swayed against gray glimmering skies.
O'er the dim billows thundering, peals a boom
Of the deep gun that bursteth as a knell.
When the brave tender to the brave farewell—
And strong arms bear a comrade to the tomb.
The opened sod: a sorrowing band beside—
One rattling roll of musketry, and then,
A man no more among his fellow-men,
Darkness his chamber, and the earth his bride,
My father sleeps in peace; perchance more blest
Than some he left to mourn him, and to know
The bitter blight of an enduring woe,
Longing (how oft!) with him to be at rest.