‘Father, there is no moon tonight,
The clouds are scudding swift and black,
Flying on through the stormy night –
Oh, how I wish the boats were back!’
The little lad peered through the night,
The night lost deep in wind and rain,
Peering out there in childish fright
Through the small cottage window-pane.
His grandsire sat within the room
And pensively stared at the fire.
He made no sign, heard not the boom
Of the breaker, nor the storm wind’s choir.
He saw again, in reverie,
Just such a night nine years agone,
When furious gales had lashed the sea
And taken for their prey his son.
A bride of weeks was left with him,
A daughter for the widower;
Together faced the future grim,
And each the other’s comforter.
In time there came another soul
From Heaven to delight the pair;
A baby with his father’s dole
Of courage, and his mother’s hair.
She looked upon her baby’s face,
She looked upon the hair with pride;
She gave a sigh, and murmured ‘Grace
Be given me!’ and so she died.
‘Come from the window, Juan lad,
Thine eyes can never pierce the gloom;
Come sit with me,’ his grandsire said,
‘I wish,’ he said, ‘that I was higher
And big enough to join the Fleet.’
‘Oh, time enough,’ his grandsire said,
‘Oh, time enough to go to sea.
For they that go come homeward dead;
That life is only misery.
‘Thy kinsmen all have gone that way,
And thou alone art left to live;
I would not have thee go away;
Thy life I will not let thee give.’