The Blind Sailor

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."Strike me blind!." we swore. God! And I was stricken! I have seen the morning fade And noonday thicken.

Be merciful, O God, that I have named in vain.I am blind in the eyes; but spare the gleam in my brain.Though my footsteps falter, let my soul still sightThe things that were my life before you hid the light.

Little things were they, Lord, too small to be denied:The green of roadstead waters where the tired ships ride,Bark and brig and barkentine, blown from near and far,Safe inside the spouting reef and the sobbing bar.

Leave to me my pictures, Lord, leave my memories bright:The twisted palms are clashing, and the sand is white.The shore-boats crowd around us, the skipper's gig is manned,And nutmegs spice the little wind that baffles off the land.

The negro girls are singing in the fields of cane,The lizards dart on that white path I'll not walk again,The opal blinds melt up at dawn, the crimson blinds flare down,And white against the mountains flash the street-lamps of the town.

Leave to me my pictures, Lord, spare my mind to seeThe shimmer of the water and shadow of the tree,The cables roaring down, the gray sails swiftly furled,A riding-light ablink in some far corner of the world.

Leave to me my pictures, Lord: the islands and the main,The little things a sailorman must out to see again;The beggars in the market-place, the oxen in the streets,The bitter, black tobacco and the women selling sweets.

I have fed my vision, Lord; now I pray to holdThe blue and gray and silver, the green and brown and gold.I have filled my heart, Lord; now I pray to keepThe laughter and the colour through this unlifting sleep.

."Strike me blind!." we swore. God! And I am blind! But leave me still, O Lord, The pictures in the mind!

© Roberts Theodore Goodridge