My poem this Monday, is by American poet, Joaquin Miller. I love the sea, but as we know it is treacherous and unforgiving. The courage of explorers, such as Columbus has to be acknowledged. This poem tells of the sailors fear and of the drive and determination needed to succeed in any quest.
Behind him lay the gray Azores
Behind the Gates of Hercules
Before him not the ghost of shores
Before him only shoreless seas
The good mate said, "Now we must pray,
For lo the very stars are gone.
Brave Admiral, speak, what shall I say?"
"Why, say, 'Sail on! sail on! and on!' "
My men grow mutinous day by day
My men grow ghastly wan and weak
The stout mate thought of home, a spray
Of salt wave washed his swarthy cheek
"What shall I say, brave Admiral, say,
If we sight naught but seas at dawn?"
"Why, you shall say at break of day,
'Sail on! sail on! and on!' "
They sailed and sailed, as winds might blow
Until at last the blanched mate said,
"Why, now not even God would know
Should I and all my men fall dead
These very winds forget their way
For God from these dead seas is gone
Now speak, brave Admiral, speak and say"
He said, "Sail on! sail on! and on!"
They sailed. They sailed. Then spake the mate
"This mad sea shows his teeth tonight.
He curls his lip, he lies in wait,
With lifted teeth, as if to bite!
Brave Admiral, say but one good word:
What shall we do when hope is gone?"
The words leapt like a leaping sword,
"Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!"
Then pale and worn, he kept his deck
And peered through darkness. Ah, that night
Of all dark nights! And then a speck
A light! A light! At last a light!
It grew, a starlit flag unfurled!
It grew to be Time's burst of dawn
He gained a world, he gave that world
Its grandest lesson, "On! sail on!"
Joaquin Miller (1837-1913)