Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
Wreck of the Hornet
By William Davis Gallagher (1808–1894)
United States sloop of war, wrecked off Tampico, in the Gulf of Mexico, on the 10th of September, 1829

THE SUN was low—a flood of light
    Slept on the glittering ocean—
And Night’s dark robes were journeying up,
    With slow and solemn motion:
And ever and anon was heard        5
The sea-mew’s shriek—ill-omen’d bird!
Down sunk the sun—the gathering mist
    Rose proudly up before it,
And stream’d upon the lurid air,
    A blood-red banner o’er it:        10
Frowning, and piled up heap on heap,
Dense clouds o’erspread the mighty deep;
Darker, and pitchy black they grew—
And roll’d, and wheel’d, and onward flew
    Like marshalling of men.        15
Then trembled timid souls with fear—
Glisten’d in Beauty’s eye the tear—
And “fatherland” was doubly dear—
    But brave hearts quail’d not then.
Soon the rough tar’s prophetic eye        20
Saw many a floating shroud on high,
And many a coffin drifting by—
    And on the driving gale
Beheld the spirits of the deep,
Above—around—in fury sweep—        25
    And heard the dead’s low wail,
    And the demon’s mutter’d curse.
And on the fierce and troubled wind,
Rode Death—and, following close behind,
    A dark and sombre hearse.        30
And soon the barque a wreck was driven,
Before the free, wild winds of Heaven!
Now shrank with fear each gallant heart—
    Bended was many a knee—
And the last prayer was offer’d up,        35
    God of the deep, to thee!
Mutter’d the angry heavens still,
    And murmur’d still the sea—
And old and sterner hearts bow’d down
    God of the deep, to Thee!        40
And still the wreck was onward driven,
    Upon the wide, wild sea—
And Man’s proud soul to Fate was given,
    Woman’s, O God, to Thee!
Gaped wide the deep—down plunged the wreck—        45
    Up rose a fearful yell—
Death’s wings flapp’d o’er that sinking deck—
    A shudder!—all was still.
Morn came. A flood of light agen
    Burst on the glittering waters,        50
Above the deep’s stern-hearted men,
    And Earth’s fair sons and daughters:
Naught of or life or death was seen—
And who could say that strife had been!

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