He rose at dawn and, fired with hope,
Shot o’er the seething harbor-bar,
And reach’d the ship and caught the rope,
And whistled to the morning star.
And while he whistled long and loud
He heard a fierce mermaiden cry,
‘O boy, tho’ thou art young and proud,
I see the place where thou wilt lie.
‘The sands and yeasty surges mix
In caves about the dreary bay,
And on they ribs the limpet sticks,
And in thy heart the scrawl shall play.’
‘Fool,’ he answer’d, ‘death is sure
To those that stay and those that roam,
But I will nevermore endure
To sit with empty hands at home.
‘My mother clings about my neck,
My sisters crying, “Stay for shame;”
My father raves of death and wreck,–
They are all to blame, they are all to blame.
‘God help me! save I take my part
Of danger on the roaring sea,
A devil rises in my heart,
Far worse than any death to me.’
–Alfred Lord Tennyson, “The Sailor Boy”