A Voyage

(1882)

Our galley chafes against the Quay,
  The full tide calls us from the beach, 
While far away across the sea
  Is set the isle that we would reach
     The haven where we fain would be.

Let us go forward—doubting not
  Into the grey waste flecked with foam
Adventurers that have no spot
  So dear that they should call it home
     Lone men, of all men most forgot.

Grim men, with some deep hidden sin,
  About their bosom, haggard eyes 
That shew the bitter soul within
  Warped by a thousand miseries
     Pale men, with drawn white lips and thin.

Old men, that lose their faith in good,
  And so take service recklessly 
In any strife by land or flood,
  Wherever evil chance to be,
     Prodigal of their life's last blood.

Young faces, very old with woe,
  Strong men, in evil stronger still 
These make our crew and so we go
  Climbing each shifting waterhill
     That heaves us upward from below.

Our galley lamps are bright with hope,
  Our voices ring across the sea
In other lands is wider scope
  For all our virile energy
Let be the past, leave we the quay
     With firm hands on the tiller rope