Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DEATH OF THE SEA KING, by LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON



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THE DEATH OF THE SEA KING, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Dark, how dark the morning
Last Line: The earl and the maiden together lie dead!
Alternate Author Name(s): L. E. L.; Maclean, Letitia
Subject(s): Death; Dead, The


DARK, how dark the morning
That kindles the sky!
But darker the scorning
Of Earl Harold's eye;
On his deck he is lying, --
It once was his throne,
Yet there he is dying,
Unheeded and lone.
There gather'd round nor follower nor foeman,
But over him bendeth a young and pale woman.

He has lived mid the hurtle
Of spears and of snow;
Yet green droops the myrtle
Where he is laid low:
The vessel is stranded
On some southern isle;
The foes that are banded
Will wait her awhile: --
Ay, long is that waiting -- for never again
Will the Sea Raven sweep o'er her own northern main.

He was born on the water,
'Mid storm and 'mid strife;
Through tempest and slaughter
Was hurried his life;
Few years has he numbered,
And golden his head,
Yet the north hills are cumbered
With bones of his dead.
The combat is distant, the whirlwind is past
From the spot where Earl Harold is breathing his last.

'Tis an isle which the ocean
Has kept like a bride,
For the moonlit devotion
Of each gentler tide;
No eye hath ere wander'd,
No step been addrest,
Where nature has squander'd
Her fairest and best.
Yet the wild winds have brought from the Baltic afar
That vessel of slaughter, that lord of the war.

He saw his chiefs stooping,
But not unto him;
The stately form drooping,
The flashing eye dim.
The wind from the nor'erd
Swept past, fierce and free
It hurried them forward,
They knew not the sea;
And a foe track'd their footsteps more stern than the tide --
The plague was among them -- they sicken'd and died.

Left last, and left lonely,
Earl Harold remain'd;
One captive -- one only
Life's burden sustain'd;
She watch'd o'er his sleeping,
Low, sweetly she spoke,
He saw not her weeping,
She smiled when he woke;
Tho' stern was his bearing and haughty his tone,
He had one gentler feeling, and that was her own.

Fierce the wild winds were blowing
That drove them all night,
Now the hush'd waves are flowing
In music and light:
The storm is forsaking
Its strife with the main,
And the blue sky is breaking
Thro' clouds and thro' rain:
They can see the fair island whereon they are thrown,
Where the palms and the spice-groves rise lovely and lone.

Her bright hair is flying
Escaped from its fold,
The night-dews are drying
Away from its gold;
The op'ning flowers quiver
Beneath the soft air;
She turns with a shiver
From what is so fair.
Paler, colder the forehead that rests on her knee!
For her, in the wide world, what is there to see!

He tries -- vain the trying --
To lift up his sword,
As if still defying
The Death, now his lord.
Once to gaze on the ocean,
His lips faintly stir;
But life's last emotion
Is one look on her.
Down drops on his bosom her beautiful head, --
The Earl and the maiden together lie dead!





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