Letitia Elizabeth Landon


The Frozen Ship

by Letitia Elizabeth Landon

The fair ship cut the billows,
And her path lay white behind,
And dreamily amid her sails
Scarce moved the sleeping wind.

The sailors sang their gentle songs,
Whose words were home and love;
Waveless the wide sea spread beneath --
And calm the heaven above.

But as they sung, each voice turned low,
Albeit they knew not why;
For quiet was the waveless sea,
And cloudless was the sky.

But the clear air was cold as clear;
'Twas pain to draw the breath;
And the silence and the chill around
Were e'en like those of death.

Colder and colder grew the air,
Spell-bound seemed the wave to be,
And ere night fell, they knew they were locked
In the arms of that icy sea.

Stiff lay the sail, chain-like the ropes,
And snow passed o'er the main;
Each thought, but none spoke, of distant home
They never should see again.

Each looked upon his comrade's face,
Pale as funereal stone;
Yet none could touch the other's hand,
For none could feel his own.

Like statues fixed, that gallant band
Stood on the dread deck to die;
The sleet was their shroud, the wind their dirge,
And their churchyard the sea and the sky.

Fond eyes have watched by their native shore,
And prayers to the wild winds gave;
But never again came that stately ship
To breast the English wave.

Hope grew fear, and fear grew hope,
Till both alike were done:
And the bride lay down in her grave alone,
And the mother without her son.

Years passed, and of that goodly ship
Nothing of tidings came;
Till, in after-time, when her fate had grown
But a tale of fear and a name --

It was beneath a tropic sky
The tale was told to me;
The sailor who told, in his youth had been
Over that icy sea.

He said it was fearful to see them stand,
Nor the living, nor yet the dead,
And the light glared strange in the glassy eyes
Whose human look was fled.

For frost had done one half life's part,
And kept them from decay:
Those they loved had mouldered, but these
Looked the dead of yesterday.

Peace to the souls of the graveless dead
'Twas an awful doom to dree;
But fearful and wondrous are thy works,
O God! in the boundless sea!


The Poetical Works Of Miss Landon
Copyright 1853
Phillips, Sampson, And Co.
110 Washington Street