Verse > Anthologies > Augustin S. Macdonald, comp. > A Collection of Verse by California Poets
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Augustin S. Macdonald, comp.  A Collection of Verse by California Poets.  1914.
 
Night-Sentries
By George Sterling
 
EVER, as sinks the day on sea or land,
  Called or uncalled you take your kindred posts.
At helm and lever, wheel and switch you stand,
  On the world’s wastes and melancholy coasts.
      Strength to the patient hand!        5
  To all, alert and faithful in the night,
        May there be Light!
 
Now roars the wrenching train along the dark:
  How many watchers guard the barren way,
In signal-towers, at stammering keys, to mark        10
  What word the whispering horizons say!
      To all that see and hark,—
  To all, alert and faithful in the night,
        May there be Light!
 
On ruthless streets, on by-ways sad with sin,        15
  (Half hated by the blinded ones you guard)
Guard well, lest crime unheeded enter in!
  The dark is cruel and the vigil hard.
      The hours of guilt begin.
  To all, alert and faithful in the night,        20
        May there be Light!
 
Now reels the pulsing hull adown the sea:
  Gaze onward, anxious eyes, to mist or star!
Where foams the heaving highway wide and free?
  Where wait the reef, the berg, the cape, the bar?        25
      Whatever menace be,
  To all, alert and faithful in the night,
        May there be Light!
 
Now the surf-rumble rides the midnight wind,
  And grave patrols are at the ocean-edge.        30
Now soars the rocket where the billows grind,
  Discerned too late, on sunken shoal or ledge.
      To all that seek and find,—
  To all, alert and faithful in the night,
        May there be Light!        35
 
On lonely headlands gleam the lamps that warn,
  Star-steady, or a-blink like dragon-eyes.
Govern your rays, or wake the giant horn
  Within the fog that welds the sea and skies!
      Far distant runs the morn:        40
  To all, alert and faithful in the night,
        May there be Light!
 
Now glow the lesser lamps in rooms of pain,
  Where nurse and doctor watch the joyless breath,
Drawn in a sigh, and sighing lost again.        45
  Who waits without the threshhold, Life or Death?
      Reckon you loss or gain?
  To all, alert and faithful in the night,
        May there be Light!
 
Honor to you that guard our welfare now!        50
  To you that constant in the past have stood!
To you by whom the future shall avow
  Unconquerable fortitude and good!
      Upon the sleepless brow
  Of each, alert and faithful in the night,        55
        May there be Light!
 
 
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