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The Sea-Boy

by Lydia Sigourney

"Up the main-top-mast, ho!"
The storm was loud,
And the deep midnight muffled up her head,
Leaving no ray.

By the red binnacle,
I saw the sea-boy. His young cheek was pale,
And his lips trembled. But he dar'd not hear
That hoarse command repeated. So he sprang,
With slender foot amid the slippery shrouds.

He, oft by moonlight watch, had lur'd my ear,
With everlasting stories of his home,
And of his mother. His fair brow told tales
Of household kisses, and of gentle hands
That bound it when it ached, and laid it down
On the soft pillow, with a curtaining care.

And he had sometimes spoken of the cheer
That waited him, when, wearied from his school,
At winter's eve, he came. Then, he would pause,
For his high beating bosom threw a chain
O'er his proud lips, or else he would have sigh'd,
In deep remorse, for leaving such a home.

And he would haste away, and pace the deck,
More rapidly, as if to hide from me,
The gushing tear. I mark'd the inward strife
Unquestioning, save by a silent prayer
That the tear wrung so bitterly, might work
The sea-boy's good, and wash away all trace
Of disobedience. Now, the same big tear
Hung like a pearl upon him, as he climb'd
And grappled to the mast.

I watch'd his toil,
With strange foreboding, till he seem'd a speck
Upon the ebon bosom of the cloud.
And I remember'd that he once had said,
"I fear I shall not see my home again:"
And sad the memory of those mournful words,
Dwelt with me, as he pass'd above my sight,
Into thick darkness.

The wild blast swept on.
The strong ship toss'd.
Shuddering, I heard a plunge,
A heavy plunge,—a gurgling 'mid the wave.
I shouted to the crew. In vain! In vain!
The ship held on her way. And never more
Shall that poor, delicate sea-boy raise his head,
To do the bidding of those roughen'd men,
Whose home is on the sea.

And never more
May his fond mother strain him to her breast,
Weeping that hardship thus should bronze the brow,
To her so beautiful, nor the kind sire
Make glad by his forgiveness, the rash youth
Who wander'd from his home, to throw the wealth
Of his warm feelings on the faithless sea.

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