Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SHIPWRECK, SELECTION, by WILLIAM FALCONER

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THE SHIPWRECK, SELECTION, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: In vain the cords and axes were prepared
Last Line: And pressed the stony beach, a lifeless crew!
Subject(s): Disasters; Sea; Shipwrecks; Ocean

IN vain the cords and axes were prepared,
For now the audacious seas insult the yard;
High o'er the ship they throw a horrid shade,
And o'er her burst in terrible cascade.
Uplifted on the surge, to heaven she flies,
Her shattered top half buried in the skies,
Then headlong plunging thunders on the ground;
Earth groans! air trembles! and the deeps resound!
Her giant-bulk the dread concussion feels,
And quivering with the wound in torment reels.
So reels, convulsed with agonizing throes,
The bleeding bull beneath the murderer's blows.
Again she plunges! hark! a second shock
Tears her strong bottom on the marble rock:
Down on the vale of death, with dismal cries,
The fated victims, shuddering, roll their eyes
In wild despair; while yet another stroke,
With deep convulsion, rends the solid oak;
Till like the mine, in whose infernal cell
The lurking demons of destruction dwell,
At length asunder torn her frame divides,
And, crashing, spreads in ruin o'er the tides.
O, were it mine with tuneful Maro's art
To wake to sympathy the feeling heart;
Like him the smooth and mournful verse to dress
In all the pomp of exquisite distress,
Then too severely taught by cruel fate,
To share in all the perils I relate,
Then might I with unrivalled strains deplore
The impervious horrors of a leeward shore!
As o'er the surge the stooping mainmast hung,
Still on the rigging thirty seamen clung;
Some, struggling, on a broken crag were cast,
And there by oozy tangles grappled fast.
Awhile they bore the o'erwhelming billows' rage,
Unequal combat with their fate to wage;
Till, all benumbed and feeble, they forego
Their slippery hold, and sink to shades below.
Some, from the main-yard-arm impetuous thrown
On marble ridges, die without a groan.
Three with Palemon on their skill depend,
And from the wreck on oars and rafts descend.
Now on the mountain wave on high they ride,
Then downward plunge beneath the involving tide,
Till one, who seems in agony to strive,
The whirling breakers heave on shore alive;
The rest a speedier end of anguish knew,
And pressed the stony beach, a lifeless crew!

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