Shall thy hatchment, mouldering grimly in yon church
amid the sands,
Stay trouble from thy household? Or the carven cherub-hands
Which hold thy shield to the font? Or the gauntlets on the wall
Keep evil from its onward course as the great tides rise and fall?
The great tides rise and fall, and the cave sucks in the breath
Of the wave when it runs with tossing spray, and the
ground-sea rattles of Death;
“I rise in the shallows,” ’a saith,
“Where the mermaid’s kettle sings,
And the black shag flaps his wings!”
Ay, the green sea-mountain leaping may lead horror in its rear,
When thy drenched sail leans to its yawning trough, Pentruan
Yet the stoup waits at thy doorway for its load of
And thy ships lie in the tideway, and thy flocks along the moore;
And thine arishes gleam softly when the October moonbeams wane,
When in the bay all shining the fishers set the seine;
The fishers cast the seine, and ’tis “Heva!” in the town,
And from the watch-rock on the hill the huers are shouting down;
And ye hoist the mainsail brown,
As over the deep-sea roll
The lurker follows the shoal;
To follow and to follow, in the moonshine silver-clear,
When the halyards creek to thy dipping sail, Pentruan of Porthmeor!
And wailing, and complaining, and whistling whisht
The Seven Whistlers have passed thy house, Pentruan of Porthmeor!
It was not in the morning, nor the noonday’s golden grace,—
It was in the fearsome midnight, when the tide-dogs
yelped in the Race:
The tide swings round in the Race, and they’re whistling
whisht and low,
And they come from the lonely heather, where the fur-edged fox-gloves
And the moor-grass sways to and fro,
Where the yellow moor-birds sigh,
And the sea-cooled wind sweeps by.
Canst hear the curlew’s whistle through the darkness
wild and drear,—
How they’re calling, calling, calling, Pentruan of Porthmeor?
The live man victorious
Rode spurring from the fight;
In a glad voice and glorious
He sang of his delight,
And dead men three, foot-loose and free,
Came after in the night.
And one laid hand on his bridle-rein—
Swift as the steed he sped—
“O, ride you fast, yet at the last,
Hate faster rides,” he said.
“My sons shall know their father’s foe
One day when blades are red.”
And one laid hand on his stirrup-bar
Like touch o’ driven mist,
“For joy you slew ere joy I knew,
For one girl’s mouth unkissed,
At your board’s head, at mass, at bed,
My pale ghost shall persist.”
And one laid hands on his own two hands,
“O Brother o’ mine,” quoth he,
“What can I give to you who live
Like gift you gave to me?
Since from grief and strife and ache o’ life
Your sword-stroke set me free.”