Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Landsman / Francis Sherman

The Landsman

“It well may be just as you say,
Will Carver, that your tales are true;
Yet think what I must put away,
Will Carver, if I sail with you.”

“If you should sail with me (the wind
Is west, the tide’s at full, my men!)
The things that you have left behind
Will be as nothing to you then.”

“Inland, it’s June! And the birds sing
Among the wooded hills, I know;
Between green fields, unhastening,
The Nashwaak’s shadowed waters flow.

“What know you of such things as these
Who have the gray sea at your door, —
Whose path is as the strong winds please
Beyond this narrow strip of shore?”

“Your fields and woods! Now, answer me:
Up what green path have your feet run
So wide as mine, when the deep sea
Lies all-uncovered to the sun?

“And down the hollows of what hills
Have you gone — half so glad of heart
As you shall be when our sail fills
And the great waves ride far apart?”

“O! half your life is good to live,
Will Carver; yet, if I should go,
What are the things that you can give
Lest I regret the things I know!

“Lest I desire the old life’s way?
The noises of the crowded town?
The busy streets, where, night and day,
The traffickers go up and down?”

“What can I give for these? Alas,
That all unchanged your path must be!
Strange lights shall open as we pass
And alien wakes traverse the sea;

“Your ears shall hear (across your sleep)
New hails, remote, disquieted,
For not a hand-breadth of the deep
But has to soothe some restless dead.

“These things shall be. And other things,
I think, not quite so sad as these!
— Know you the song the rigging sings
When up the opal-tinted seas

“The slow south-wind comes amorously?
The sudden gleam of some far sail
Going the same glad way as we,
Hastily, lest the good wind fail?

“The dreams that come (so strange, so fair!)
When all your world lies well within
The moving magic circle where
The sea ends and the skies begin?” . . .

. . . “What port is that, so far astern,
Will Carver? And how many miles
Shall we have run ere the tide turn?
— And is it far to the farthest isles?”

by Francis Sherman
from A Canadian Calendar: XII Lyrics, 1900

[All rights reserved by the author's estate - Please do not copy]

Francis Sherman (by George Dance)

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