Old Spookses’ Pass, Malcolm’s Katie and Other Poems

by Isabella Valancy Crawford




  “Come with me,” said the Wind
To the ship within the dock.
“Or dost thou fear the shock
Of the ocean-hidden rock,

When tempests strike thee full and leave thee blind;
  And low the inky clouds
Blackly tangle in thy shrouds;
And ev’ry strainèd cord
Finds a voice and shrills a word,

That word of doom so thunderously upflung
  From the tongue [Page 126]
Of every forkèd wave,
Lamenting o’er a grave
Deep hidden at its base,

Where the dead whom it has slain
    Lie in the strict embrace
Of secret weird tendrils; but the pain
    Of the ocean’s strong remorse
    Doth fiercely force
The tale of murder from its bosom out
In a mighty tempest clangour, and its shout
In the threat’ning and lamenting of its swell
    Is as the voice of Hell,
Yet all the word it saith
    Is ‘Death.’”
         “Come with me,” sang the Wind,
        Why art thou, love, unkind?
        Thou are too fair, O ship,
        To kiss the slimy lip
Of the cold and dismal shore; and, prithee, mark,
        How chill and dark
Shew the vast and rusty linkings of the chain,
        Hoarse grating as with pain,
        Which moors thee
        And secures thee
From the transports of the soft wind and the main.
        Aye! strain thou and pull,
        Thy sails are dull
And dim from long close furling on thy spars,
        But come thou forth with me,
        And full and free, [Page 127]
I’ll kiss them, kiss them, kiss them, till they be
    White as the Arctic stars,
Or as the salt-white pinions of the gull!”
  “Come with me,” sang the Wind,
  “O ship belov’d, and find
How golden-gloss’d and blue
Is the sea,

How thrush sweet is my voice; how dearly true
  I’ll keep my nuptial promises to thee.
  O mine to guide thy sails
By the kisses of my mouth;
Soft as blow the gales,
On the roses in the south.
O mine to guide thee far

  From ruddy coral bar,
From horizon to horizon thou shalt glimmer like a star;
  Thou shalt lean upon my breast,
And I shall rest,
And murmur in thy sails,

  Such fond tales,
That thy finest cords

Will, syren-like, chant back my mellow words
With such renew’d enchantment unto me
  That I shall be,
By my own singing, closer bound to thee!”
“Come with me,” sang the Wind,
“Thou knowest, love, my mind,
No more I’ll try to woo thee,
Persuade thee or pursue thee,
[Page 128]
  For thou art mine;
Since first thy mast, a tall and stately pine
  Beneath Norwegian skies,
Sang to my sighs
Thou, thou wert built for me,

  Strong lily of the sea!
Thou cans’t not choose,

    The calling of my low voice to refuse;
  And if Death
Were the sole, sad, wailing burthen of my breath,
  Thy timbers at my call,
Would shudder in their thrall,
    Thy sails outburst to touch my stormy lip;
  Like a giant quick in a grave,
Thy anchor heave,

And close upon my thunder-pulsing breast, O ship,
    Thou would’st tremble, nor repine
  That being mine,
Thy spars,

Like long pale lights of falling stars,
Plunged in the Stygian blackness of the sea,
  And to billowy ruin cast
Thy tall and taper mast,

Rushed shrieking headlong down to an abyss.
  O ship! O love! if Death
Were such sure portion, thou could’st not refuse
  But thou would’st choose
As mine to die, and call such choosing bliss;
  For thou for me
Wert plann’d from all eternity!” [Page 129]