Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
 
The Sailor Boy
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)
 
HE rose at dawn and, fired with hope,
  Shot o’er the seething harbour-bar,
And reach’d the ship and caught the rope,
  And whistled to the morning star.
 
And while he whistled long and loud        5
  He heard a fierce mermaiden cry,
“O boy, tho’ thou art young and proud,
  I see the place where thou wilt lie.
 
“The sands and yeasty surges mix
  In caves about the dreary bay,        10
And on thy ribs the limpet sticks,
  And in thy heart the scrawl shall play.”
 
“Fool,” he answer’d, “death is sure
  To those that stay and those that roam,
But I will nevermore endure        15
  To sit with empty hands at home.
 
“My mother clings about my neck,
  My sisters crying, ‘Stay for shame;’
My father raves of death and wreck,
  They are all to blame, they are all to blame.        20
 
“God help me! save I take my part
  Of danger on the roaring sea,
A devil rises in my heart,
  Far worse than any death to me.”
 
 
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