At twilight, when I lean the gunwale o'er
And watch the water turning from the bow,
I sometimes think the best is here and now —
The voyage all, and nought the hidden shore.
Is there no help ? and must we make the land ?
Shall every sailing in some haven cease ?
And must the chain rush out, the anchor strike the sand.
And is there from its fetters no release ?
And shall the Steersman's voice say, " Nevermore
The ravening gale, the soft and sullen fog.
No more the cunning shoal, the changeful ebb and flow.
Put up the charts, and take the lead below,
And close the vessel's log " ?
Adventure is a seaman's life, the port
Calls but the weary and the tempest driven :
Perhaps its safety were too dearly bought
If that for this our freedom must be given.
For lo ! our Steersman is for ever young
And with much gladness sails beneath the stars;
Our ship is old, yet still her sails are hung
Like eager wings upon the steady spars.
Then tell me not of havens for the soul
Where tides can never come, nor storms molest;
My sailing spirit seeks no sheltered goal,
Nought is more sad than safety — life is best
When every day brings danger for delight,
And each new solemn night
Engulfs our whitening wake within the whole.
Beyond the bent horizon oceans are
Where every star
Lies like an isle upon Eternity.
There would I be
Given to his rushing wind.
No prudent course to find
For some snug corner of Infinity;
But evermore to sail
Close-reefed before the gale,
And see the steep
Great billow of his love, with threatening foam,
Come roaring home
And lift my counter in its mighty sweep.