Poems and Songs

God Help Our Men at Sea

Henry Kendall

THE WILD night comes like an owl to its lair,
    The black clouds follow fast,
And the sun-gleams die, and the lightnings glare,
    And the ships go heaving past, past, past—
    The ships go heaving past!
            Bar the doors, and higher, higher
            Pile the faggots on the fire:
            Now abroad, by many a light,
            Empty seats there are to-night—
            Empty seats that none may fill,
            For the storm grows louder still:
How it surges and swells through the gorges and dells,
    Under the ledges and over the lea,
Where a watery sound goeth moaning around—
            God help our men at sea!

Oh! never a tempest blew on the shore
    But that some heart did moan
For a darling voice it would hear no more
    And a face that had left it lone, lone, lone—
    A face that had left it lone!
            I am watching by a pane
            Darkened with the gusty rain,
            Watching, through a mist of tears,
            Sad with thoughts of other years,
            For a brother I did miss
            In a stormy time like this.
Ah! the torrent howls past, like a fiend on the blast,
    Under the ledges and over the lea;
And the pent waters gleam, and the wild surges scream—
            God help our men at sea!

Ah, Lord! they may grope through the dark to find
    Thy hand within the gale;
And cries may rise on the wings of the wind
    From mariners weary and pale, pale, pale—
    From mariners weary and pale!
            ’Tis a fearful thing to know,
            While the storm-winds loudly blow,
            That a man can sometimes come
            Too near to his father’s home;
            So that he shall kneel and say,
            “Lord, I would be far away!”
Ho! the hurricanes roar round a dangerous shore,
    Under the ledges and over the lea;
And there twinkles a light on the billows so white—
            God help our men at sea!

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