The Spirit Of Navigation

Stern Father of the storm! who dost abide
Amid the solitude of the vast deep,
For ever listening to the sullen tide,
And whirlwinds that the billowy desert sweep!
Thou at the distant death-shriek dost rejoice;
The rule of the tempestuous main is thine,
Outstretched and lone; thou utterest thy voice,
Like solemn thunders: These wild waves are mine;
Mine their dread empire; nor shall man profane
The eternal secrets of my ancient reign.

The voice is vain: secure, and as in scorn,
The gallant vessel scuds before the wind;
Her parting sails swell stately to the morn;
She leaves the green earth and its hills behind;
Gallant before the wind she goes, her prow
High bearing, and disparting the blue tide
That foams and flashes in its rage below;
Meantime the helmsman feels a conscious pride,
And while far onward the long billows swell,
Looks to the lessening land, that seems to say, Farewell!

Father of storms! then let thy whirlwinds roar
O'er seas of solitary amplitude;
Man, the poor tenant of thy rocky shore,
Man, thy terrific empire hath subdued;
And though thy waves toss his high-foundered bark
Where no dim watch-light gleams, still he defies
Thy utmost rage, and in his buoyant ark
Speeds on, regardless of the darkening skies;
And o'er the mountain-surges, as they roll,
Subdues his destined way, and speeds from pole to pole.

Behold him now, far from his native plain,
Where high woods shade some wild Hesperian bay,
Or green isles glitter in the southern main,
His streaming ensign to the morn display!
Behold him, where the North's pale meteors dance,
And icy rocks roll glimmering from afar,
Fearless through night and solitude advance!
Or where the pining sons of Andamar,
When dark eclipse has wrapt the labouring moon,
Howl to the demon of the dread monsoon!

Time was, like them, poor Nature's shivering child,
Pacing the beach, and by the salt spray beat,
He watched the melancholy surge, or smiled
To see it burn and bicker at his feet;
In some rude shaggy spot, by fortune placed,
He dreamed not of strange lands, and empires spread,
Beyond the rolling of the watery waste;
He saw the sun shine on the mountain's head,
But knew not, whilst he hailed the orient light,
What myriads blessed his beam, or sickened at the sight.

From some dark promontory, that o'erbent
The flashing waves, he heard their ceaseless roar;
Or carolled in his light canoe content,
As, bound from creek to creek, it grazed the shore;
Gods of the storm the dreary space might sweep,
And shapes of death, and gliding spectres gaunt,
Might flit, he thought, o'er the remoter deep;
And whilst strange voices cried, Avaunt, avaunt!
Uncertain lights, seen through the midnight gloom,
Might lure him sadly on to his cold watery tomb.

No city, then, amid the calm clear day,
O'er the blue waters' undulating line,
With battlements, and fans that glittered gay,
And piers, and thronging masts, was seen to shine.
No cheerful sounds were wafted on the gale,
Nor hummed the shores with early industry;
But mournful birds in hollow cliffs did wail,
And there all day the cormorant did cry,
While with sunk eye, and matted, dripping locks,
The houseless savage slept beneath the foam-beat rocks.

Thus slumbering long upon the dreamy verge
Of instinct, see, he rouses from his trance!
Faint, and as glimmering yet, the Arts emerge,
One after one, from darkness, and advance,
Beauteous, as o'er the heavens the stars' still way.
Now see the track of his dominion wide,
Fair smiling as the dayspring; cities gay
Lift their proud heads, and o'er the yellow tide,
Whilst sounds of fervent industry arise,
A thousand pennants float bright streaming in the skies!

Genius of injured Asia! once sublime
And glorious, now dim seen amid the storm,
And melancholy clouds of sweeping time,
Who yet dost half reveal thine awful form,
Pointing, with saddened aspect and slow hand,
To vast emporiums, desolate and waste;
To wrecks of unknown cities, sunk in sand!
'Twas at thy voice, Arts, Order, Science, Taste.
Upsprung, the East adorning, like the smile
Of Spring upon the banks of thy own swelling Nile.

'Twas at thy voice huge Enterprise awoke,
That, long on rocky Aradus reclined,
Slumbered to the hoarse surge that round her broke,
And hollow pipings of the idle wind;
She heard thy voice, upon the rock she stood
Gigantic, the rude scene she marked--she cried,
Let there be intercourse, and the great flood
Waft the rich plenty to these shores denied!
And soon thine eye delight
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"The Spirit Of Navigation" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 21 Feb. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/40968/the-spirit-of-navigation>.

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