Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
408. The Burial of the Dane
 
By Henry Howard Brownell
 
 
BLUE gulf all around us,
  Blue sky overhead—
Muster all on the quarter,
  We must bury the dead!
 
It is but a Danish sailor,        5
  Rugged of front and form;
A common son of the forecastle,
  Grizzled with sun and storm.
 
His name, and the strand he hailed from
  We know, and there ’s nothing more!        10
But perhaps his mother is waiting
  In the lonely Island of Fohr.
 
Still, as he lay there dying,
  Reason drifting awreck,
  “’T is my watch,” he would mutter,        15
  “I must go upon deck!”
 
Aye, on deck, by the foremast!
  But watch and lookout are done;
The Union Jack laid o’er him,
  How quiet he lies in the sun!        20
 
Slow the ponderous engine,
  Stay the hurrying shaft;
Let the roll of the ocean
  Cradle our giant craft;
Gather around the grating,        25
  Carry your messmate aft!
 
Stand in order, and listen
  To the holiest page of prayer!
Let every foot be quiet,
  Every head be bare—        30
The soft trade-wind is lifting
  A hundred locks of hair.
 
Our captain reads the service,
  (A little spray on his cheeks)
The grand old words of burial,        35
  And the trust a true heart seeks:—
  “We therefore commit his body
    To the deep”—and, as he speaks,
 
Launched from the weather railing,
  Swift as the eye can mark,        40
The ghastly, shotted hammock
  Plunges, away from the shark,
Down, a thousand fathoms,
  Down into the dark!
 
A thousand summers and winters        45
  The stormy Gulf shall roll
High o’er his canvas coffin;
  But, silence to doubt and dole:—
There ’s a quiet harbor somewhere
  For the poor aweary soul.        50
 
Free the fettered engine,
  Speed the tireless shaft,
Loose to’gallant and topsail,
  The breeze is fair abaft!
 
Blue sea all around us,        55
  Blue sky bright o’erhead—
Every man to his duty,
  We have buried our dead!
 

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