A Song Before Sailing

written by

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Wind of the dead men's feet,
 Blow down the empty street
 Of this old city by the sea
 With news for me!
 Blow me beyond the grime
 And pestilence of time!
 I am too sick at heart to war
 With failure any more.
 Thy chill is in my bones;
  The moonlight on the stones
  Is pale, and palpable, and cold;
  I am as one grown old.

  I call from room to room
  Through the deserted gloom;
  The echoes are all words I know,
  Lost in some long ago.

  I prowl from door to door,
  And find no comrade more.
  The wolfish fear that children feel
  Is snuffing at my heel.

  I hear the hollow sound
  Of a great ship coming round,
  The thunder of tackle and the tread
  Of sailors overhead.

  That stormy-blown hulloo
  Has orders for me, too.
  I see thee, hand at mouth, and hark,
  My captain of the dark.

  O wind of the great East,
  By whom we are released
  From this strange dusty port to sail
  Beyond our fellows' hail,

  Under the stars that keep
  The entry of the deep,
  Thy somber voice brings up the sea's
  Forgotten melodies;

  And I have no more need
  Of bread, or wine, or creed,
  Bound for the colonies of time
  Beyond the farthest prime.

  Wind of the dead men's feet,
  Blow through the empty street;
  The last adventurer am I,
  Then, world, goodby!

© Bliss William Carman