God Help Our Men at Sea by Henry Kendall

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The wild night comes, like an owl to its lair;
   The black clouds follow fast;
And the sungleams die, and the lightnings glare,
   And the ships go heaving past, past, past,     
   The ships go heaving past!  
         Bar the doors, and higher, higher,
         Pile the faggots on the fire!     
         Now abroad by many a light,
         Empty seats there are to-night;   
         Empty seats that none may fill,
         For the storm grows louder still!
How it surges and swells through the gorges and dells,
   Under the ledges and over the lea,
Where a watery sound goeth moaning around,
               God help our men at sea!    

Oh! never a tempest blew on the shore,
   But what some heart did groan
For a darling voice it would hear no more,
   And a face that had left it lone, lone, lone --
   A face that had left it lone!
         I am watching by a pane
         Darkened with the gusty rain,  
         Watching through a mist of tears,   
         Sad with thoughts of other years:
         For a brother I did miss   
         In a stormy time like this!-
Ha, the torrent howls past, like a fiend on the blast,
   Under the ledges and over the lea;
And the pent waters gleam, and the wild surges scream --
               God help our men at sea!

Ah! Lord, they may grope through the dark to find
   Thy hand within the gale;
And cries may rise on the wings of the wind,
   From mariners weary and pale, pale, pale --
   From mariners weary and pale!
         'Tis a fearful thing to know,
         While the storm-winds loudly blow,
         That a man can sometimes come   
         Too near to his father's home;
         So that he shall kneel and say,
         "Lord, I would be far away!"
Ho! the hurricanes roar round a dangerous shore,
   Under the ledges and over the lea,
And there twinkles a light on the billows so white --  
               God help our men at sea!

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 March 1862;
and later in
Leaves from Australian Forests by Henry Kendall, 1869.

Author: Henry Kendall (1839-1882) was born near Milton on the NSW coast. He lived in the coastal regions of Illawarra in the south of NSW and Clarence River in the north before spending two years aboard a whaling vessel. He returned to live in Sydney and published his first volume of poetry, Poems and Songs in 1862. He moved to Melbourne in 1868 after his marriage and published his second volume, Leaves from Australian Forests in 1869. His lack of success, however, along with the death of his daughter Araluen, drove him to alcohol and he was to spend various periods in a Sydney asylum for his addiction. He was finally cured, reunited with his wife and achieved some level of success with his final volume of poetry, Songs from the Mountains, in 1880. He died in 1882.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 11, 2011 9:23 AM.

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