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"At a cliff's foot I clung and was content, Swayed to and fro by warm and shallow waves;
Along the coast the storm-wind raging went, And tore me from my caves.
"I am the bitter herbage of that plain Where no flocks pasture, and no man shall have
Homestead, nor any tenure there may gain
"A worthless weed, a drifting, broken weed,
Hither and yonder, as the winds might blow,
The sea-weed floated. Then a refluent tide Swept it along to meet a galleon's prow"Land ho!" Columbus cried.
All day our crew had lined the side
Thereon, all hot for war, they bound
Their belts close, and their keen blades
Then, at the next gun's puff of blue, We set the grog-cup on its round,
And pledged for life or pledged for death
Our last sigh of expiring breath.
Laughing, our brown young singer fell As their next shot crashed through our rail;
Then 'twixt us flashed the fire of hell,
That shattered spar and riddled sail. What ill we wrought we could not tell;
But blood-red all their scuppers dripped When their black hull to starboard dipped.
Nine times I saw our helmsman fall,
And nine times sent new men, who took The whirling wheel as at death's call;
But when I saw the last one look
The fight went raging past me when
My good blade cleared a silent place; Then in a ring of fallen men
I paused to breathe a little space. Elsewhere the deck roared like a glen When mountain torrents meet; the fray A moment then seemed far away.
The barren sea swept to the sky;
The empty sky dipped to the sea; Such utter waste could scarcely lie Beyond death's starved periphery. Only one living thing went by:
Far overhead an ominous bird Rode down the gale with wings unstirred Windward I saw the billows swing
Dark crests to beckon others on To see our end; then, hurrying
To reach us ere we should be gone, They came, like tigers mad to fling Their jostling bodies on our ships, And snarl at us with foaming lips.