Robert Stephen Hawker

The Sailors by Adelaide Ross

Young and impetuous they were
When first their homes they left to fare
On unfamiliar seas,
That long and long had called to them,
For distant ports with names of gold,
For midnight sun, Antipodes,
New worlds, and worlds more old
Than life, the stars their diadem,
The sea their throne, their ancient wave
Which while they lived a living gave
And offered when they died a grave,
For long ere life should have been run
She drowned them every one.
And green and ghastly they were tossed
On the wild reefs where they were lost,
Dead on the rocks and beaches cast,
Where in the grim night stark they lay,
Nor ever dreamed they should not see
The dawn which lit their tragedy,
Or that the sun of yesterday
Would be their last.
Long buried now they lie at ease
Within a cliff that hangs beside
The dark shore where they died,
Forever in the sound of seas
That on the shingles plunge and foam;
And if their spirits wake and stir
They hear the liquid songs of her,
Their immemorial main,
Listen and know they are at home,
And turn and sleep again.


From A Wild Flower Wreath, by Adelaide Ross (1896-1993). Privately printed, 1975.
© The Estate of Adelaide Ross. Used by permission.