Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
The Youthful Sailor
By John D. Wolfe, Jr.
 
THE YOUTHFUL sailor mounts the bark,
  And bids each weeping friend adieu;
Fair blows the gale, the canvass swells;
  Slow sinks the upland from his view.
 
Three mornings, from his ocean-bed,        5
  Resplendent beams the god of day;
The fourth high looming in the mist,
  A war-ship’s flouting banners play.
 
Her yawl is launch’d; light o’er the deep,
  Too kind, she wafts a ruffian band;        10
Her blue track lightens to the bark,
  And soon on deck the miscreants stand.
 
Around they throw the baleful glance;
  Suspense holds mute the anxious crew—
Who is their prey?—poor sailor-boy!        15
  The baleful glance is fix’d on you.
 
Nay, why that useless scrip unfold?—
  They damn the “lying Yankee scrawl:”
Torn from thine hand, it strews the wave—
  They force thee trembling to the yawl.        20
 
Sick was thine heart, as from the deck
  The hand of friendship waved farewell;
Mad was thy brain, as, far behind,
  In the gray mist thy vessel fell.
 
One hope, yet, to thy bosom clung,        25
  The captain mercy might impart:
Vain were that hope, which bade thee look
  For mercy in a pirate’s heart.
 
What woes can man on man inflict,
  When malice joins with uncheck’d power!        30
Such woes, unpitied, and unknown,
  For many a month, the sailor bore.
 
Oft gemm’d his eye the bursting tear,
  As memory linger’d on past joy;
As oft they flung the cruel jeer,        35
  And damn’d the “chicken-liver’d boy.”
 
When, sick at heart, with “hope deferr’d,”
  Kind sleep his wasting form embraced,
Some ready minion plied the lash,
  And the loved dream of freedom chased.        40
 
Fast to an end his miseries drew;
  The deadly hectic flush’d his cheek;
On his pale brow the cold dew hung:
  He sigh’d, and sunk upon the deck!
 
The sailor’s woes drew forth no sigh;        45
  No hand would close the sailor’s eye;
Remorseless, his pale corpse they gave,
  Unshrouded, to the friendly wave.
 
And, as he sunk beneath the tide,
  A hellish shout arose;        50
Exultingly the demons cried,
  “So fare all Albion’s rebel foes!”
 
 
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