Alfred Tennyson

The Sailor Boy

Poem by Alfred Tennyson

He rose at dawn and, fired with hope,
Shot o'er the seething harbor-bar,
And reach'd the ship and caught the rope,
And whistled to the morning star.

And while he whistled long and loud
He heard a fierce mermaiden cry,
`O boy, tho' thou art young and proud,
I see the place where thou wilt lie.

`The sands and yeasty surges mix
In caves about the dreary bay,
And on thy ribs the limpet sticks,
And in thy heart the scrawl shall play.'

`Fool,' he answer'd, `death is sure
To those that stay and those that roam,
But I will nevermore endure
To sit with empty hands at home.

`My mother clings about my neck,
My sisters crying "stay for shame;"
My father raves of death and wreck,
They are all to blame, they are all to blame.

`God help me! save I take my part
Of danger in the roaring sea,
A devil rises in my heart,
Far worse than any death to me.'