Poems of Felicia Hemans in The Literary Souvenir, 1826/The Wreck

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For other versions of this work, see The Wreck (Felicia Hemans).




Her sails are draggled in the brine.
    That gladdened late the skies;
And her pennon, that kissed the fair moonshine,
Down man; a fathom lies.

All night the booming minute-gun
    Had pealed along the deep,
And mournfully the rising sun
    Looked o'er the tide-worn steep.
A bark, from India's coral strand,
    Before the rushing blast,
Had vailed her topsails to the sand,
    And bowed her noble mast.

The queenly ship!—brave hearts had striven,
    And true ones died with her!
We saw her mighty cable riven,
    Like floating gossamer!
We saw her proud flag struck that morn,
    A star once o'er the seas,
Her helm beat down, her deck uptorn,—
    And sadder things than these!

We saw her treasures cast away;
    The rocks with pearl were sown;
And, strangely sad, the ruby's ray
    Flashed out o'er fretted stone;
And gold was strewn the wet sands o'er,
    Like ashes by a breeze,
And gorgeous robes,—but oh! that shore
    Had sadder sights than these!

We saw the strong man, still and low,
    crushed reed thrown aside!
Yet, by that rigid lip and brow,
    Not without strife he died!
And near him on the sea-weed lay,
    Till then we had not wept,
But well our gushing hearts might say,
    That there a mother slept;

For her pale arms a babe had pressed*[1]
    With such a wreathing grasp,
Billows had dashed o'er that fond breast,
Yet not undone the clasp!

Her very tresses had been flung
    To wrap the fair child's form,
Where still their wet, long streamers clung,
    All tangled by the storm.

And beautiful, 'midst that wild scene,
    Gleamed up the boy's dead face,
Like Slumber's, trustingly serene,
    In melancholy grace.
Deep in her bosom lay his head,
    With half-shut violet eye;—
He had known little of her dread,
    Nought of her agony!

Oh, human love! whose yearning heart
    Through all things vainly true,
So stamps upon thy mortal part,
    Its passionate adieu!
Surely thou hast another lot,
    There is some home for thee,
Where thou shalt rest, remembering not
    The moaning of the sea!

  1. * This circumstance is related of Mrs. Cargill, an actress of some celebrity, who was shipwrecked on the rocks of Scilly, when returning from India.