Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (The Art of Losing—Issue 58, October 2015)

John Malcolm
Lines on the Loss of a Ship (1824)

Her mighty sails the breezes swell,

And fast she leaves the lessening land.

And from the shore the last farewell

Is waved by many a snowy hand ;

And weeping eyes are on the main,

Until its verge she wanders o’er;

But, from the hour of parting pain,

That bark was never heard of more !

In her was many a mother’s joy,

And love of many a weeping fair ;

For her was wafted, in its sigh,

The lonely heart’s unceasing prayer ;

And, oh ! the thousand hopes untold

Of ardent youth, that vessel bore ;

Say, were they quenched in waters cold ?

For she was never heard of more !

When on her wide and trackless path

Of desolation, doomed to flee,

Say, sank she ‘midst the blending wrath

Of racking cloud and rolling sea ?

Or, where the land but mocks the eye,

Went drifting on a fatal shore ?

Vain guesses all—her destiny

Is dark—she ne’er was heard of more !

The moon hath twelve times changed her form,

From glowing orb to crescent wan ;

‘Mid skies of calm, and scowl of storm,

Since from her port that ship hath gone ;

But ocean keeps its secret well,

And though we know that all is o’er,

No eye hath seen—no tongue can tell

Her fate—she ne’er was heard of more !

Oh ! were her tale of sorrow known,

‘Twere something to the broken-heart,

The pangs of doubt would then be gone,

And Fancy’s endless dreams depart :

It may not be !—there is no ray

By which her doom we may explore ;

We only know she sailed away,

And ne’er was seen nor heard of more !