The Wreck [poem by Charles Harpur, 20 December 1833]

[Editor: A poem by Charles Harpur.]

The Wreck

Her sails are furled, and she lies along,
A dark still hulk upon the tide,
Down from the yards the sailors throng
Then on the deck in silence glide;
Whilst dread each brow is clouding,
And dead the voice of mirth,
For they hear the war-cry loudning
Of a tempest mustering forth,
From the pitchy skies of the barbarous north.
The tempest — the tempest came,
With an helm of clouds, and a sword of flame,
Cheering on, as ’twere, with its awful shouts,
The watery mass that before it spouts;
And the crew, each firm to his post the while,
With a skilful hand and a steady toil,
Have faced the ship round,
To the watery mound,
Like a stag that returns on the foremost hound,
Vain must their efforts prove,
For the storm increases now;
And, as answering to the peals above,
The ocean shouts below —
Now poised on the wave, is the fated wreck,
Like an eagle alight on an Alpine peak;
And now below, in a gulf of the sea,
Like a coffin that’s laid in the grave is she,
Whilst in hellish pomp, and in deadly pride,
A precipice hangs over either side,
And the sailors stare
With a ghastly fear,
On the foaming jaws of a grave so near.
A prayer is on the waters,
And a frantic shriek and a wailing cry,
Which the laughing tempest scatters,
As to slay it from the sky,
But hark, ’tis the sob of the opening wave,
The summoning voice of the sailors grave,
And she sinks below
With her howling crew,
And the ocean rolls naked over her now.

C. H.

The Australian (Sydney, NSW), Friday 20 December 1833, page 4

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