Page:A Treasury of South African Poetry.djvu/256

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J. R.

New stars that bore no meaning; new birds with mournful cries—
The very brine, so deep and dark, was foreign to their eyes;
While as the days and weeks flew on, and seasons came and went,
Alone on that untravelled sea the snail-like hours were spent.
No wand'rer o'er an austral wild, no desert-planted palm,
Could more completely be possessed of isolation's charm;
For on the vacant surges of that great southern deep
None but this band of voyagers fell on Christmas-Eve asleep.
Oh! ye that now in giant barks o'er subject oceans speed,
Give to the men that dared them first their peril-purchased meed.
Oh! ye to whom in later times the sea brings few scant fears,
Honour as best befits their fame those staunch old pioneers.

They had left remote behind them—like a memory growing dim,
The shores of Spain—imperial Spain—power, great, and proud, and grim.
They had seen, discreetly distant, the false Moor's gloomy realm,
While with a sign devout they guarded well the willing helm;