Rose Terry Cooke




by Rose Terry Cooke

The west-wind blows, the west-wind blew,
The snow hissed cruelly,
All night I heard the baffled cry
Of mariners on the sea.

I saw the icy shrouds and sail,
The slippery, reeling deck,
And white-caps dancing pale with flame,
The corpse-lights of the wreck.

The west-wind blows, the west-wind blew,
And on its snowy way,
That hissed and hushed like rushing sand,
My soul fled far away.

The snow went toward the morning hills
In curling drifts of white,
But I went up to the gates of God
Through all the howling night.

I went up to the gates of God.
The angel waiting there,
Who keeps the blood-red keys of Heaven
Stooped down to hear my prayer.

Dear keeper of the keys of Heaven,
A thousand souls to-night
Are torn from life on land and sea,
While life was yet delight.

But I am tired of storms and pain;
Sweet angel, let me in!
And send some strong heart back again,
To suffer and to sin.

The angel answered -- stern and slow --
How darest thou be dead,
While God seeks dust to make the street
Where happier men may tread?

Go back, and eat earth's bitter herbs,
Go, hear its dead-bells toll;
Lie speechless underneath their feet,
Who tread across thy soul.

Go, learn the patience of the Lord
Whose righteous judgments wait;
Thy murdered cry may cleave the ground,
But not unbar His gate.

Right backward, through the whirling snow,
Back, on the battling wind,
My soul crept slowly to its lair,
The body left behind.

The west-wind blows, the west-wind blew,
There are dead men on the sea,
And landsmen dead, in shrouding drifts --
But there is life in me.


Copyright 1888
William S. Gottsberger
11 Murray Street
New York