The Loss of the Eurydice

  • The Loss of the Eurydice

  • Foundered March 24. 1878
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  • THE Eurydice–it concerned thee, O Lord:
  • Three hundred souls, O alas! on board,
  • Some asleep unawakened, all un-
  • warned, eleven fathoms fallen
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  • Where she foundered! One stroke
  • Felled and furled them, the hearts of oak!
  • And flockbells off the aerial
  • Downs’ forefalls beat to the burial.
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  • For did she pride her, freighted fully, on
  • Bounden bales or a hoard of bullion?–
  • Precious passing measure,
  • Lads and men her lade and treasure.
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  • She had come from a cruise, training seamen–
  • Men, boldboys soon to be men:
  • Must it, worst weather,
  • Blast bole and bloom together?
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  • No Atlantic squall overwrought her
  • Or rearing billow of the Biscay water:
  • Home was hard at hand
  • And the blow bore from land.
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  • And you were a liar, O blue March day.
  • Bright sun lanced fire in the heavenly bay;
  • But what black Boreas wrecked her? he
  • Came equipped, deadly-electric,
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  • A beetling baldbright cloud thorough England
  • Riding: there did storms not mingle? and
  • Hailropes hustle and grind their
  • Heavengravel? wolfsnow, worlds of it, wind there?
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  • Now Carisbrook keep goes under in gloom;
  • Now it overvaults Appledurcombe;
  • Now near by Ventnor town
  • It hurls, hurls off Boniface Down.
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  • Too proud, too proud, what a press she bore!
  • Royal, and all her royals wore.
  • Sharp with her, shorten sail!
  • Too late; lost; gone with the gale.
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  • This was that fell capsize,
  • As half she had righted and hoped to rise
  • Death teeming in by her portholes
  • Raced down decks, round messes of mortals.
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  • Then a lurch forward, frigate and men;
  • ‘All hands for themselves’ the cry ran then;
  • But she who had housed them thither
  • Was around them, bound them or wound them with her.
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  • Marcus Hare, high her captain,
  • Kept to her–care-drowned and wrapped in
  • Cheer’s death, would follow
  • His charge through the champ-white water-in-a-wallow.
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  • All under Channel to bury in a beach her
  • Cheeks: Right, rude of feature,
  • He thought he heard say
  • ‘Her commander! and thou too, and thou this way.’
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  • It is even seen, time’s something server,
  • In mankind’s medley a duty-swerver,
  • At downright ‘No or yes?’
  • Doffs all, drives full for righteousness.
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  • Sydney Fletcher, Bristol-bred,
  • (Low lie his mates now on watery bed)
  • Takes to the seas and snows
  • As sheer down the ship goes.
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  • Now her afterdraught gullies him too down;
  • Now he wrings for breath with the deathgush brown;
  • Till a lifebelt and God’s will
  • Lend him a lift from the sea-swill.
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  • Now he shoots short up to the round air;
  • Now he gasps, now he gazes everywhere;
  • But his eye no cliff, no coast or
  • Mark makes in the rivelling snowstorm.
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  • Him, after an hour of wintry waves,
  • A schooner sights, with another, and saves,
  • And he boards her in Oh! such joy
  • He has lost count what came next, poor boy.–
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  • They say who saw one sea-corpse cold
  • He was all of lovely manly mould,
  • Every inch a tar,
  • Of the best we boast our sailors are.
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  • Look, foot to forelock, how all things suit! he
  • Is strung by duty, is strained to beauty,
  • And brown-as-dawning-skinned
  • With brine and shine and whirling wind.
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  • O his nimble finger, his gnarled grip!
  • Leagues, leagues of seamanship
  • Slumber in these forsaken
  • Bones, this sinew, and will not waken.
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  • He was but one like thousands more,
  • Day and night I deplore
  • My people and born own nation,
  • Fast foundering own generation,
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  • I might let bygones be–our curse
  • Of ruinous shrine no hand or, worse,
  • Robbery’s hand is busy to
  • Dress, hoar-hallowèd shrines unvisited;
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  • Only the breathing temple and fleet
  • Life, this wildworth blown so sweet,
  • These daredeaths, ay this crew, in
  • Unchrist, all rolled in ruin–
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  • Deeply surely I need to deplore it,
  • Wondering why my master bore it,
  • The riving off that race
  • So at home, time was, to his truth and grace
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  • That a starlight-wender of ours would say
  • The marvellous Milk was Walsingham Way
  • And one–but let be, let be:
  • More, more than was will yet be.–
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  • O well wept, mother have lost son;
  • Wept, wife; wept, sweetheart would be one:
  • Though grief yield them no good
  • Yet shed what tears sad truelove should.
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  • But to Christ lord of thunder
  • Crouch; lay knee by earth low under:
  • ‘Holiest, loveliest, bravest,
  • Save my hero, O Hero savest.
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  • And the prayer thou hearst me making
  • Have, at the awful overtaking,
  • Heard; have heard and granted
  • Grace that day grace was wanted.’
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  • Not that hell knows redeeming,
  • But for souls sunk in seeming
  • Fresh, till doomfire burn all,
  • Prayer shall fetch pity eternal.
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