Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. II. Love
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume II. Love.  1904.
 
IV. Wooing and Winning
The Earl o’ Quarterdeck
George MacDonald (1824–1905)
 
A New Old Ballad

THE WIND it blew, and the ship it flew;
  And it was “Hey for hame!
And ho for hame!” But the skipper cried,
  “Haud her oot o’er the saut sea faem.”
 
Then up and spoke the King himsel’:        5
  “Haud on for Dumferline!”
Quo the skipper, “Ye ’re king upo’ the land—
  I’m king upo’ the brine.”
 
And he took the helm intil his hand,
  And he steered the ship sae free;        10
Wi’ the wind astarn, he crowded sail,
  And stood right out to sea.
 
Quo the king, “There ’s treason in this I vow:
  This is something underhand!
’Bout ship!” Quo the skipper, “Yer grace forgets        15
  Ye are king but o’ the land!”
 
And still he held to the open sea;
  And the east-wind sank behind;
And the west had a bitter word to say,
  Wi’ a white-sea roarin’ wind.        20
 
And he turned her head into the north.
  Said the king: “Gar fling him o’er.”
Quo the fearless skipper: “It ’s a’ ye ’re worth!
  Ye ’ll ne’er see Scotland more.”
 
The king crept down the cabin-stair,        25
  To drink the gude French wine.
And up she came, his daughter fair,
  And luikit ower the brine.
 
She turned her face to the drivin’ hail,
  To the hail but and the weet;        30
Her snood it brak, and, as lang ’s hersel’,
  Her hair drave out i’ the sleet.
 
She turned her face frae the drivin’ win’—
  “What ’s that ahead?” quo she.
The skipper he threw hansel’ frae the win’,        35
  And he drove the helm a-lee.
 
“Put to yer hand, my lady fair!
  Put to yer hand,” quo he;
“Gin she dinna face the win’ the mair,
  It ’s the waur for you and me.”        40
 
For the skipper kenned that strength is strength,
  Whether woman’s or man’s at last.
To the tiller the lady she laid her han’,
  And the ship laid her cheek to the blast.
 
For that slender body was full o’ soul,        45
  And the will is mair than shape;
As the skipper saw when they cleared the berg,
  And he heard her quarter scrape.
 
Quo the skipper: “Ye are a lady fair,
  And a princess grand to see;        50
But ye are a woman, and a man wad sail
  To hell in yer company.”
 
She liftit a pale and queenly face;
  Her een flashed, and syne they swim.
“And what for no to heaven?” she says,        55
  And she turned awa’ frae him.
 
But she took na her han’ frae the good ship’s helm,
  Until the day did daw;
And the skipper he spak, but what he said
  It was said atween them twa.        60
 
And then the good ship she lay to,
  With the land far on the lee;
And up came the king upo’ the deck,
  Wi’ wan face and bluidshot ee.
 
The skipper he louted to the king:        65
  “Gae wa’, gae wa’,” said the king.
Said the king, like a prince, “I was a’ wrang,
  Put on this ruby ring.”
 
And the wind blew lowne, and the stars cam’ oot,
  And the ship turned to the shore;        70
And, afore the sun was up again,
  They saw Scotland ance more.
 
That day the ship hung at the pier-heid,
  And the king he stept on the land.
“Skipper, kneel down,” the king he said,        75
  “Hoo daur ye afore me stand?”
 
The skipper he louted on his knee,
  The king his blade he drew:
Said the king, “How daured ye contre me?
  I ’m aboard my ain ship noo.        80
 
“I canna mak ye a king,” said he,
  “For the Lord alone can do that;
And besides ye took it intil yer ain han’
  And crooned yersel’ sae pat!
 
“But wi’ what ye will I redeem my ring;        85
  For ance I am at your beck.
And first, as ye loutit Skipper o’ Doon,
  Rise up Yerl o’ Quarterdeck.”
 
The skipper he rose and looked at the king
  In his een for all his croon;        90
Said the skipper, “Here is yer grace’s ring,
  And yer daughter is my boon.”
 
The reid blude sprang into the king’s face,—
  A wrathful man to see:
“The rascal loon abuses our grace;        95
  Gae hang him upon yon tree.”
 
But the skipper he sprang aboard his ship,
  And he drew his biting blade;
And he struck the chain that held her fast,
  But the iron was ower weel made.        100
 
And the king he blew a whistle loud;
  And tramp, tramp, down the pier,
Cam’ twenty riders on twenty steeds,
  Clankin’ wi’ spur and spear.
 
“He saved your life!” cried the lady fair;        105
  “His life ye daurna spill!”
“Will ye come atween me and my hate?”
  Quo the lady, “And that I will!”
 
And on cam’ the knights wi’ spur and spear,
  For they heard the iron ring.        110
“Gin ye care na for yer father’s grace,
  Mind ye that I am the king.”
 
“I kneel to my father for his grace,
  Right lowly on my knee;
But I stand and look the king in the face,        115
  For the skipper is king o’ me.”
 
She turned and she sprang upo’ the deck,
  And the cable splashed in the sea.
The good ship spread her wings sae white,
  And away with the skipper goes she.        120
 
Now was not this a king’s daughter,
  And a brave lady beside?
And a woman with whom a man might sail
  Into the heaven wi’ pride?
 
 
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