The good ship on an iceberg struck
Where northern seas ran high,
And midnight in its ebon veil
Encircled earth and sky,
It struck! what moment was there then
To waste in sorrow's strife,
When but one bold adventurous rush
Remained 'tween death and life!
The boat! the boat! it launches forth
Upon the mountain wave,
And shrieking throngs, with frantic haste
Essay its power to save;
A fragile thing, it darkly strives
Amid the wrathful tide,
And deep, unutter'd pangs are theirs
Who leave that vessel's side.
A moonbeam pierced the heavy cloud!
Alas! what sight was there!
Who stood on that forsaken deck
In calm and mute despair!
A fair, young maiden, just arous'd
From slumber soft and dear,
Stretched her white arms in wild amaze,
But found no helper near.
In sad adieu, her hand she wav'd
As if some friend she blest,
Then closer drew her snowy robe
Around her gentle breast,
And upward, to the darkened heavens
Imploring glances cast,
While her rich curls profusely fell,
And floated on the blast.
Then sudden, in the thronging boat,
With agonizing scream,
Up sprang a noble, youthful form
As from a wildering dream,
"Oh Sister! Sister!" echoed loud
His shrill, unearthly cry,
"How dare I bear a brother's name
Yet leave thee thus to die?"
He plunged, the crested wave he ruled,
He climbed the cloven deck,
And clasped her, as the thundering surge
Swept o'er the sinking wreck.
"Sweet sister, 'tis thy brother's voice,
His cheek is pressed to thine,
One cradle-bed was ours, my love,
Thy last, dread couch be mine.
The placid Moon with pitying eye,
Look'd lone and silent down,
Encircling them with holy light,
As with a martyr's crown,
Then shrank within a fleecy cloud,—
Hoarse shrieked the impetuous main,
The deep sea closed, and where were they?
Go ask the angel train!
Ah! dauntless hearts that night were whelmed
Beneath the billowy high,
And temples white with honored years,
And woman's love-lit eye,
And clinging to its mother's breast,
In visions soft and deep,
Unwakened innocence went down
Amid the pearls to sleep.
The eye that saw that iceberg dread
Come drifting darkly down,
Destruction in its wintry breath
And on its monster crown;
The ear that heard the deadly crash,
And thunder of the wave,
Can never lose that bitter trace
But in the oblivious grave.
The rescued man to listening groups
May tell the mournful tale,
And fond affection clasp his hand,
And childhood's cheek grow pale,
While the sad memory of their fate
Brother and sister dear,
Who with that buried ship went down
Shall wake the pitying tear.