In slumbers of midnight the sailor boy lay;
His hammock swung loose at the sport of the wind;
But watch-worn and weary, his cares flew away,
And visions of happiness danced o'er his mind.
He dreamed of his home, of his dear native bowers,
And pleasures that waited on life's merry morn;
While Memory each scene gayly covered with flowers,
And restored every rose, but secreted the thorn.
Then Fancy her magical pinions spread wide,
And bade the young dreamer in ecstasy rise;
Now, far, far behind him the green waters glide,
And the cot of his forefathers blesses his eyes.
The jessamine clambers in flowers o'er the thatch,
And the swallow chirps sweet from her nest in the wall;
All trembling with transport, he raises the latch,
And the voices of loved ones reply to his call.
A father bends o'er him with looks of delight;
His cheek is impearled with a mother's warm tear;
And the lips of the boy in a love kiss unite
With the lips of the maid whom his bosom holds dear.
The heart of the sleeper beats high in his breast;
Joy quickens his pulses,—all his hardships seem o'er;
And a murmur of happiness steals through his rest,—
"O God! thou hast blest me,—I ask for no more."
Ah! whence is that flame which now bursts on his eye?
Ah! what is that sound that now 'larums his ear?
'T is the lightning's red glare painting hell on the sky!
'T is the crashing of thunders, the groan of the sphere!
He springs from his hammock,—he flies to the deck;
Amazement confronts him with images dire;
Wild winds and mad waves drive the vessel a wreck;
The masts fly in splinters; the shrouds are on fire.
Like mountains the billows tremendously swell;
In vain the lost wretch calls on Mercy to save;
Unseen hands of spirits are ringing his knell,
And the death angel flaps his broad wings o'er the wave!
O sailor boy, woe to thy dream of delight!
In darkness dissolves the gay frostwork of bliss!
Where now is the picture that Fancy touched bright,—
Thy parents' fond pressure, and love's honeyed kiss?
O sailor boy! sailor boy! never again
Shall home, love, or kindred, thy wishes repay;
Unblessed and unhonored, down deep in the main,
Full many a fathom, thy frame shall decay.
No tomb shall e'er plead to remembrance for thee,
Or redeem form or fame from the merciless surge;
But the white foam of waves shall thy winding sheet be,
And winds in the midnight of winter thy dirge.
On a bed of green sea flowers thy limbs shall be laid,—
Around thy white bones the red coral shall grow;
Of thy fair yellow locks threads of amber be made,
And every part suit to thy mansion below.
Days, months, years, and ages shall circle away,
And still the vast waters above thee shall roll;
Earth loses thy pattern forever and aye;
O sailor boy! sailor boy! peace to thy soul!