Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
The Ocean Pilgrim, a Moral Poem
 
By Mr. Davis

 Illi robur et æs triplex
Circa pectus, erat.

          Thomas King, a young American sailor, confined on board the Ruby, guardship, at Bermuda, observed one evening a boat alongside, with her sails standing, which the lieutenants had neglected to hoist in. A squall arose, and in the darkness of the gust, he committed himself in her, to the mercy of the winds and waves, with no other provision than some biscuits and water. He was alone nine days on the awful expanse of waters, in this open boat: on the tenth he made the Virginia shore, and landed at Cape Henry.

STRONG is the love of native home:
  There vivid fancy casts her eye;
Whether on earth or sea we roam,
  Our native land demands the sigh.
 
So I, Columbia’s true-born son,        5
  In floating dungeon long confined,
Could ne’er by smiles nor bribes be won
  To abjure the land I left behind.
 
Bermuda’s isle had long beheld,
  In prison-ship, my cheerless fare,        10
From home and voice of friends withheld,
  A mournful victim to despair.
 
At length, one night, a boat astern,
  With snowy sails allured my gaze;
A squall arose—and, now, I burn        15
  To leave my jailers in the haze.
 
Some bread and water all my store,
  A compass saved in venturous mood:
And now, alone, I traverse o’er,
  In open boat, great Neptune’s flood.        20
 
’Twas Sabbath when my frail bark roll’d
  At mercy of the billowy steep;
But though no bell to vespers toll’d,
  I found a temple on the deep.
 
I earnest pray’d, that He, whose storms        25
  In terror shake the sea and sky,
Would take my spirit in his arms,
  And watch me with a parent’s eye.
 
The fair moon lent the sea her light,
  Her beams upon the surface curl’d,        30
And dolphins sported, passing bright,
  Around my little wooden world.
 
When, sudden, from a silver cloud
  Advanced sweet Hope, a vision bright!
With melting voice she call’d aloud,        35
  And charm’d the silence of the night.
 
“Sea-pilgrim, hail! old Ocean kind,
  Shall homeward bear his sailor-boy;
And soon a mother’s arms shall wind
  Around thy neck with speechless joy.        40
 
“Thy sisters dear shall, sobbing, dwell
  About thy form with gushing eye;
And she, whose vestal tumults swell,
  Shall at thy presence cease to sigh.”
 
Nine days had pass’d—the tenth I knew        45
  By signs, that land was not remote:
The sea had lost its sable hue,
  And swallows hover’d round my boat.
 
’Twas so—for, soon, in angel shape,
  Uprose to view Virginia’s shore!        50
I land on Henry’s welcome cape,
  I kneel, and humbly God adore!
 
 
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