The Poetry Corner

A Sailor's Song

By Paul Laurence Dunbar

Oh for the breath of the briny deep, And the tug of the bellying sail, With the sea-gull's cry across the sky And a passing boatman's hail. For, be she fierce or be she gay, The sea is a famous friend alway. Ho! for the plains where the dolphins play, And the bend of the mast and spars, And a fight at night with the wild sea-sprite When the foam has drowned the stars. And, pray, what joy can the landsman feel Like the rise and fall of a sliding keel? Fair is the mead; the lawn is fair And the birds sing sweet on the lea; But the echo soft of a song aloft Is the strain that pleases me; And swish of rope and ring of chain Are music to men who sail the main. Then, if you love me, let me sail While a vessel dares the deep; For the ship 's my wife, and the breath of life Are the raging gales that sweep; And when I 'm done with calm and blast, A slide o'er the side, and rest at last.