(Letitia Elizabeth Landon)

The Storm

There was a vessel combating the waves,
Like one who struggles with adversity:
The sea has wash'd her decks, and the wet sails
Hang droopingly; by the blue lightning's flash
Light horrible and strangethere might be seen
All shapes of wild despair; the clasped hands,
Rais'd in scarce-conscious prayer, the cold white lip,
The stern fix'd brow, which braves the death that yet
The fainting pulses tremble at; and sounds
Of sobs suppress'd, and mutter'd words, were heard,
When the winds sank in low and solemn wail
A breathing space of terror, but to rouse
More fearfully. That tempest had swept o'er
The awaken'd deep so suddenly, it seem'd
As some unholy spell had call'd it forth
Summon'd, unthought of, from its secret home.
Lost in the fair blue sky, where scarce a cloud
Was seen, save those that threw their rosy wreaths
Upon the west, to hail the approaching sun,
Like flowers strewn upon the conqueror's way.
The ocean hush'd in beautiful repose,
Seem'd fitting mirror for the pale young moon,
And the soft light of the sweet evening star.
Sailing in majesty and loveliness,
The vessel cut the waters, which did seem
To pay her homage, as unto their queen;
And far in the horizon was a speck,
Scarce visible, but watchd as anxiously
As would a mother watch the first faint tinge
Of health revisiting her child's wan cheek,
Where every thought and hope had long time clung
Light of the voyage dreartheir native shore.
A sound breaks the still silence, and a cloud
Is gathering on the air: that sound is not
The tumult of the storm; and the dark roll
Of yon black volume, rising streak'd with fire,
Is not the tempest's dwelling;'tis the breath,
The fiery breath of war; and man has dar'd
Profane the quiet of an hour like this!
Battle ! destruction!does the world contain
One spot, whereon your baneful taint is not?
A thicker darkness gathers; 'tis not now
Alone the dense smoke curling; hark, yon roll!
Echoing the cannon, as in mockery.
The winds have burst their slumber, and are risen,
Like waken'd giants, wrathful at their rest.
The foes are sunder'd; there is many a cheek,
Late warm with pride of battle, pale and cold.
Came not the storm upon their warfare like
A sign, a fearful warning?on it swept;
Foam crested the dark billows as they dash'd,
Like armed warriors rushing to the field
Upon the shore; and gleaming flashes rose,
As when the clashing weapons meet in war.
And still against the moveless rock, the sea
Led on her armies; and the howling winds
Pour'd their war-song in murmurs, fierce and loud,
As they did triumph in the desolate power
That urg'd them now. There was just light enough
To show the black clouds hung upon the sky,
Like ministers of vengeance; and the swell
Of the pil'd watersthat most fearful sight
Of human creatures perishing, with scarce
One moment's warning ere their doom is seal'd.
The lightnings rush'd, and that tost ship is seen
Rais'd on the mountain wavesanother flash!
There are the angry billowsbut no trace
Of living thing is seen.

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