So some twilight, when your
Are all blown and it is June,
You will turn your blue eyes seaward
Through the white dusk of the moon,
Wondering, as that far sea-cry
Comes upon the wind again,
And you hear the Shadow Boatswain
Piping to his shadow men.
There is rumor in Dark Harbor,
And the folk are all astir;
For a stranger in the offing
Draws them down to gaze at her,
In the gray of early morning,
Black against the orange streak,
Making in below the ledges,
With no colors at her peak.
Something makes their hearts
As they watch the long black hull,
For she brings the storm behind her
While before her there is lull.
With no pilot and unspoken,
Where the dancing breakers are,
Presently she veers and races
In across the roaring bar,—
Rounds and luffs and comes
While the wharf begins to throng.
Silence falls upon the women.
And misgiving stirs the strong.
Then with some obscure foreboding,
As a gray-haired watcher smiles,
They perceive the fearless captain
Is the Master of the Isles.
They recall the bleak December
Many streaming years ago,
When the stranger had been sighted
Driving shoreward with the snow;
When the Master came among
With his calm and courtly pride,
And had sailed away at sundown
With pale Dora for his bride;
How again he came one summer
When the herring schools were late,
And had cleared before the morning
With old Alec’s son for mate.
There was glamour with the
He had tales of far-off seas;
But his habit and demeanor
Were of other lands than these.
He had never made the Harbor
But there sailed away with him
Wife or child or friend or lover,
Leaving eyes to strain and swim,—
Strain and wait for their
Yet they never had come back;
For the pale wake of the Master
Is a wandering, fading track.
Just beyond our utmost fathom
Is the anchorage we crave,
But the Master knows the soundings
By the reach of every wave.
Just beyond the last horizon,
Vague upon the weather-gleam,
Loom the Faroff Isles forever,
The tradition of a dream.
There a white and brooding
Haunts upon the gray sea-plain,
Where the gray sea-winds are quiet
At the sources of the rain.
There where all world-weary
Get them forth to their release,
Lie the colonies of the kindred,
In the provinces of peace.