The dancers of the open begin to moan and call.
A lure is in their dancing, a weird is in their song;
The snow-white Skipper’s daughters are stronger than the strong.
They love the Norland sailor who dares the rough sea play;
Their arms are white and splendid to beckon him away.
They promise him, for kisses a moment at their lips,
To make before the morning the port of missing ships,
Where men put in for shelter, and dreams put forth again,
And the great sea-winds follow the journey of the rain.
A bridal with no morrow, no welling of old tears,
For him, and no more tidings of the departed years!
For there of old were fashioned the chambers cool and dim,
In the eternal silence below the twilight’s rim.
The borders of that country are slumberous and wide;
And they are well who marry the fondlers of the tide.
Within their arms immortal, no mortal fear can be;
But Malyn of the mountains is fairer than the sea.
And so the scudding Snowflake flies with the wind astern,
And through the boding twilight are blown the shrilling tern.
The light is on the headland, the harbor gate is wide;
But rolling in with ruin the fog is on the tide.
Fate like a muffled steersman sails with that Norland gloom;
The Snowflake in the offing is neck and neck with doom.
Ha, ha, my saucy cruiser, crowd up your helm and run!
There’ll be a merrymaking to-morrow in the sun.
A cloud of straining canvas, a roar of breaking foam,
The Snowflake and the sea-drift are racing in for home.
Her heart is dancing shoreward, but silently and pale
The swift relentless phantom is hungering on her trail.
They scour and fly together, until across the roar
He signals for a pilot—and Death puts out from shore.
A moment Malyn’s window is gleaming in the lee,
And then—the ghost of wreckage upon the iron sea.
Ah, Malyn, lay your forehead
upon your folded arm,
And hear the grim marauder shake out the reefs of storm!
Loud laughs the surly Skipper to feel the fog drive in,
Because a blue-eyed sailor shall wed his kith and kin,
And the red dawn discover a rover spent for breath
Among the merrymakers who fondle him to death.
And all the snowy sisters are dancing wild and grand,
For him whose broken beauty shall slacken to their hand.
They wanton in their triumph, and skirl at Malyn’s plight;
Lift up their hands in chorus, and thunder to the night.
The gulls are driven inland; but on the dancing tide
The master of the Snowflake is taken to his bride.
And there when daybreak yellows
along the far sea-plain,
The fresh and buoyant morning comes down the wind again.
The world is glad of April, the gulls are wild with glee,
And Malyn on the headland alone looks out to sea.
Once more that gray Shipmaster smiles, for the night is done,
And all his snow-white daughters are dancing in the sun.