The Captive Pirate

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THE captive pirate sate alone,
Musing over triumphs gone,
Gazing on the clear blue sky
From his dungeon window high.
Dreamingly he sate, and thought
Of battles he had seen and fought;
And fancy o'er him threw her spell.
He deemed he had not bid farewell
To the friends who loved him best:
O'er the white wave's snowy crest
Seems he now once more to sail,
Borne by the triumphant gale:
Cheerily the light bark bounds,
In his ears the music sounds
Of hoarsely mingling waves and voices,
And his inmost soul rejoices!

He gives the signal of command,
He waves-he drops-the lifted hand!
It was a sound of clashing steel-
Why starts he thus? what doth he feel?
The clanking of his iron chain
Hath made him prisoner again!
He groans, as memory round him brings
The shades of half-forgotten things.
His friends! his faithful friends!-a sigh
Bursts from that bosom swelling high.
His bark! his gallant bark!-a tear
Darkens the eye that knew not fear.
And another meaner name
Must lead his men to death or fame!
And another form must stand
(Captain of his mourning band)
On the deck he trod so well,
While his bark o'er ocean's swell
Is sailing far, far out at sea,
Where he never more may be!
Oh! to be away once more
From the dark and loathsome shore!
Oh! again the sound to hear
Of his ship's crew's hearty cheer!
Souls who by his side have stood,
Careless of their ebbing blood,

Wiped the death-dew from their brow,
And feebly smiled their truth to show!
Little does the Pirate deem
Freedom now were but a dream;
Little does the chieftain think
That his lost companions drink
Strugglingly by the salt sea wave,
Once their home, and now their grave!
And the bark from which they part,
(While his sad and heavy heart
Yearns to tread her gallant deck,)
Helpless lies, a heaving wreck!

And little will they deem, who roam
Hereafter in their floating home,
While their sunlit sail is spread,
That it gleams above the dead-
That the faithless wave rolls on
Calmly, as they were not gone,
While its depths warm hearts doth cover,
Whose beatings were untimely over!
And little will they deem, who stand
Safe upon the sea-girt land,
That to the stranger all it gave
Was-a prison and a grave!

That the ruin'd fortress towers
Number'd his despairing hours,
And beneath their careless tread,
Sleeps-the broken-hearted dead!

© Caroline Norton