by Joaquin Miller


Behind him lay the gray Azores,
Behind the Gates of Hercules;
Before him not the ghost of shores;
before him only shoreless seas.

The good mate said ;
"Now must we pray,
For lo ! the very stars are gone.
Brave Adm'r'l, speak ; what shall I say?"
"Why, say : 'Sail on ! sail on ! and on !'"

" My men grow mutinous day by day ;
My men grow ghastly, wan and weak."
The stout mate thought of home ;
a spray of salt wave
washed his swarthy cheek.
What shall I say , brave Adm'r'l, say ,
If we sight naught but seas at dawn?"
"Why , you shall say at break of day:
'Sail on ! sail on ! on ! and on !"

They sailed and sailed ,
as winds might blow,
Until at last the blanched mate said:
"Why , now not even God would know
Should I and all my men fall dead.
These very winds forget their way,
For God from these dread seas is gone.
Now speak , brave Adm'r'l ; speak and say
He said : " Sail on ! sail on ! and on !"

They sailed . They sailed . then spake the mate:
"This mad sea shows his teeth tonight.
He curls his lip,
he lies in wait,
With lifted teeth,
as if to bite !
Brave Adm'r'l , say but one good word:
What shall we do when hope is gone ?"
The words leapt like a leaping sword:
"Sail on ! sail on ! and on !"

Then, pale and worn,
he paced his deck,
And peered through darkness.
Ah , that night Of all dark nights!
And then a speck -
A light ! A light !
At last a light!
It grew,
a starlit flag unfurled!

It grew to be Time's burst of dawn.
He gained a world ;
he gave that world
Its grandest lesson :
" On ! sail on ! "


images/sunset.jpg (13910 bytes)



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Photo of sunset  is courtesy of Paul Rogers

c o p y r i g h t   ( c )   1 9 9 9 - 2004 Karl Ericson Enterprises.  All rights reserved

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