Silent Gazed He; Mute We Waited,
Kneeling Round-A Faithful Few,
Staunch And True, -
Whilst Above, With Thunder Freighted,
Wild The Boisterous North Wind Blew,
And The Carrion-Bird, Unsated,
On Slant Wing Around Us Flew.
Sudden, on our startled hearing,
Came the low-breathed, stern command -
Linger not, the night is nearing;
Bear me downwards to the strand,
Where my ships are idly steering
Off and on, in sight of land."
Every whispered word obeying,
Swift we bore him down the steep,
O'er the deep,
Up the tall ship's side, low swaying
To the storm-wind's powerful sweep,
And - his dead companions laying
Round him, - we had time to weep.
But the King said - "Peace! bring hither
Spoil and weapons - battle-strown,
Make no moan;
Leave me and my dead together,
Light my torch, and then - begone."
But we murmured, each to other,
"Can we leave him thus alone?"
Angrily the King replieth;
Flash the awful eyes again,
With disdain -
"Call him not alone who lieth
Low amidst such noble slain;
Call him not alone who dieth
Side by side with gallant men."
Slowly, sadly, we departed:
Reached again that desolate shore,
Trod by him, the brave true-hearted -
Dying in that dark ship's core!
Sadder keel from land ne'er parted,
Nobler freight none ever bore!
There we lingered, seaward gazing,
Watching o'er that living tomb,
Through the gloom -
Gloom! which awful light is chasing -
Blood-red flames the surge illume!
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