As, lifting me, it fell!—What next I heard,
Were billows leaping on the harbour-bar, 1370
And the shrill sea-wind, whose breath idly stirred
My hair;—I looked abroad, and saw a star
Shining beside a sail, and distant far
That mountain and its column, the known mark
Of those who in the wide deep wandering are, 1375
So that I feared some Spirit, fell and dark,
In trance had lain me thus within a fiendish bark.
For now indeed, over the salt sea-billow
I sailed: yet dared not look upon the shape
Of him who ruled the helm, although the pillow 1380
For my light head was hollowed in his lap,
And my bare limbs his mantle did enwrap,
Fearing it was a fiend: at last, he bent
O’er me his aged face; as if to snap
Those dreadful thoughts the gentle grandsire bent, 1385
And to my inmost soul his soothing looks he sent.
A soft and healing potion to my lips
At intervals he raised—now looked on high,
To mark if yet the starry giant dips
His zone in the dim sea—now cheeringly, 1390
Though he said little, did he speak to me.
’It is a friend beside thee—take good cheer,
Poor victim, thou art now at liberty!’
I joyed as those a human tone to hear,
Who in cells deep and lone have languished many a year. 1395
A dim and feeble joy, whose glimpses oft
Were quenched in a relapse of wildering dreams;
Yet still methought we sailed, until aloft
The stars of night grew pallid, and the beams
Of morn descended on the ocean-streams, 1400
And still that aged man, so grand and mild,
Tended me, even as some sick mother seems
To hang in hope over a dying child,
Till in the azure East darkness again was piled.
And then the night-wind steaming from the shore, 1405
Sent odours dying sweet across the sea,
And the swift boat the little waves which bore,
Were cut by its keen keel, though slantingly;
Soon I could hear the leaves sigh, and could see
The myrtle-blossoms starring the dim grove, 1410
As past the pebbly beach the boat did flee
On sidelong wing, into a silent cove,
Where ebon pines a shade under the starlight wove.
NOTES: 1223 torches’ editions 1818, 1839. 1385 bent]meant cj. J. Nettleship.
The old man took the oars, and soon the bark
Smote on the beach beside a tower of stone; 1415
It was a crumbling heap, whose portal dark
With blooming ivy-trails was overgrown;
Upon whose floor the spangling sands were strown,
And rarest sea-shells, which the eternal flood,
Slave to the mother of the months, had thrown 1420
Within the walls of that gray tower, which stood
A changeling of man’s art nursed amid Nature’s brood.