Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
The Seven Whistlers
Alice E. Gillington
WHISTLING strangely, whistling sadly, whistling sweet and clear,
The Seven Whistlers have passed thy house, Pentruan of Porthmeor;
It was not in the morning, nor the noonday’s golden grace,
It was in the dead waste midnight, when the tide yelped loud in the Race;
The tide swings round in the Race, and they ’re plaining whisht and low,        5
And they come from the gray sea-marshes, where the gray sea-lavenders grow;
And the cotton grass sways to and fro;
  And the gore-sprent sundews thrive
  With oozy hands alive.
Canst hear the curlews’ whistle through thy dreamings dark and drear,        10
How they ’re crying, crying, crying, Pentruan of Porthmeor?
Shall thy hatchment, mouldering grimly in yon church amid the sands,
Stay trouble from thy household? Or the carven cherub-hands
Which hold thy shield to the font? Or the gauntlets on the wall
Keep evil from its onward course, as the great tides rise and fall?        15
The great tides rise and fall, and the cave sucks in the breath
Of the wave when it runs with tossing spray, and the ground-sea rattles of Death;
“I rise in the shallows,” ’a saith,
  “Where the mermaid’s kettle sings,
  And the black shag flaps his wings!”        20
Ay, the green sea-mountain leaping may lead horror in its rear,
When thy drenched sail leans to its yawning trough Pentruan of Porthmeor!
Yet the stoup waits at thy doorway for its load of glittering ore,
And thy ships lie in the tideway, and thy flocks along the moor;
And thine arishes gleam softly when the October moonbeams wane,        25
When in the bay all shining the fishers set the seine;
The fishers cast the seine, and ’t is “Heva!” in the town,
And from the watch-rock on the hill the huers are shouting down;
And ye hoist the mainsail brown,
  As over the deep-sea roll        30
  The lurker follows the shoal;
To follow and to follow, in the moonshine silver-clear,
When the halyards creak to thy dipping sail, Pentruan of Porthmeor!
And wailing, and complaining, and whistling whisht and clear,
The Seven Whistlers have passed thy house, Pentruan of Porthmeor!        35
It was not in the morning, nor the noonday’s golden grace,—
It was in the fearsome midnight, when the tide-dogs yelped in the Race:
—The tide swings round in the Race, and they ’re whistling whisht and low,
And they come from the lonely heather, where the fur-edged foxgloves blow;
And the moor-grass sways to and fro;        40
  Where the yellow moor-birds sigh,
  And the sea-cooled wind sweeps by.
Canst hear the curlews’ whistle through the darkness wild and drear,—
How they ’re calling, calling, calling, Pentruan of Porthmeor?


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