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Shipwreck on the Shoals

 
TWO SHIPWRECK POEMS  (continued)

THE SPANIEARDS GRAVES
At the Isles of Shoals (1865)
By Celia Thaxter

O sailors, did sweet eyes look after you
The day you sailed away from sunny Spain?
Bright eyes that followed fading ship and crew,
Melting in tender rain?

Did no one dream of that drear night to be,
Wild with the wind, fierce with the stinging snow,
When on yon granite point that frets the sea,
The ship met her death-blow?

Fifty long years ago these sailors died:
(None know how many sleep beneath the waves)
Fourteen gray headstones, rising side by side,
Point out their nameless graves,-

Lonely, unknown, deserted, but for me,
And the wild birds that flit with mournful cry,
And sadder winds, and voices of the sea
That moans perpetually.

Wives, mothers, maidens, wistfully, in vain
Questioned the distance for the yearning sail,
That leaning landward, should have stretched again
White arms wide on the gale,

To bring back their beloved. Year by year,
Weary they watched, till youth and beauty passed,
And lustrous eyes grew dim and age drew near,
And hope was dead at last.

Still summer broods o'er that delicious land,
Rich, fragrant, warm with skies of golden glow:
Live any yet of that forsaken band
Who loved so long ago?

Spanish women, over the far seas,
Could I but show you where your dead repose!
Could I send tidings on this northern breeze
That strong and steady blows!

Dear dark-eyed sisters, you remember yet
These you have lost, but you can never know
One stands at their bleak graves whose eyes are wet
With thinking of your woe!

First published in The Atlantic, April 1865 and had appeared in numerous versions, studies and anthologies since.

CONTINUE with The Wreck of the Seguntum

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