[Editor: This poem by Henry Lawson was published in In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses, 1896.]
The Wreck of the ‘Derry Castle’
Day of ending for beginnings!
Ocean hath another innings,
Ocean hath another score;
And the surges sing his winnings,
And the surges shout his winnings,
And the surges shriek his winnings,
All along the sullen shore.
Sing another dirge in wailing,
For another vessel sailing
With the shadow-ships at sea;
Shadow-ships for ever sinking —
Shadow-ships whose pumps are clinking,
And whose thirsty holds are drinking
Pledges to Eternity.
Pray for souls of ghastly, sodden
Corpses, floating round untrodden
Cliffs, where nought but sea-drift strays;
Souls of dead men, in whose faces
Of humanity no trace is —
Not a mark to show their races —
Floating round for days and days.
* * * * * *
Ocean’s salty tongues are licking
Round the faces of the drowned,
And a cruel blade seems sticking
Through my heart and turning round.
Heaven! shall his ghastly, sodden
Corpse float round for days and days?
Shall it dash ’neath cliffs untrodden,
Rocks where nought but sea-drift strays?
God in heaven! hide the floating,
Falling, rising, face from me;
God in heaven! stay the gloating,
Mocking singing of the sea!
Henry Lawson. In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1903 [first published 1896], pages 109-110