Stanzas at Sea by Henry Parkes

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Written on board the barque Strathfieldsay, on the night of the 1st May, 1839.

A storm in distant darkness cowers upon the stilly deep;
   Within a low cloud's parted folds, three stars their lone watch keep:
Frequent the tropic lightning flings its ocean-flash o'er heaven,
   And, through the gloom, the shaded moon's wan outline still is given!

There's mingled in the scene to-night a splendour and a gloom,
   All, all unlike life's other scenes of dreariness or bloom;
Yet my sad thoughts hang o'er the past -- the lovely and the dark,
   As o'er the sleeping water floats our lone and lazy bark.

The wet sails, flapping o'er my head, to me sweet music make
   The light'nings seem an angel's smiles, as through the clouds they break;
For musings of a deep, dear kind, to-night are stealing o'er me,
   Of things for ever left behind, and things all new before me.

Ev'n while hope's golden future opens round me, and I bless,
   With the heart's tears, some fairy dreams of far off happiness --
Ev'n while I picture a sweet home for her I love so well,
   A mother's tears, which flow afresh, dissolve, alas! the spell!

Those tearful eyes are absent now -- the time may come no more,
   When I shall see them smile, or weep, on England's distant shore;
But He who gave a mother's love to cheer life's younger day,
   Will help the weary wanderer on the world's unfriendly way.

O, God, let virtue elevate my solitary heart!
   Whate'er of joy or grief may fall to my allotted part --
Whate'er may lift my spirit, or my sinking soul enthrall,
   In the world's struggles, strengthen me to hold the right through all!

First published in The Australasian Chronicle, 6 March 1840;
and later in
Stolen Moments: A Short Series of Poems by Henry Parkes, 1842.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 6, 2011 8:22 AM.

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