Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FORGING OF THE ANCHOR, by SAMUEL FERGUSON



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THE FORGING OF THE ANCHOR, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Come, see the dolphin's anchor forged! 'tis at a white heat now
Last Line: Among!
Subject(s): Anchors


COME, see the Dolphin's anchor forged; 't is at a
white heat now:
The bellows ceased, the flames decreased; though
on the forge's brow
The little flames still fitfully play through the sable
mound:
And fitfully you still may see the grim smiths
ranking round,
All clad in leathern panoply, their broad hands
only bare;
Some rest upon their sledges here, some work
the windlass there.
The windlass strains the tackle-chains, the black
mound heaves below,
And red and deep a hundred veins burst out at
every throe;
It rises, roars, rends all outright, -- O Vulcan, what a
glow!
'Tis blinding white, 't is blasting bright, the high
sun shines not so!
The high sun sees not, on the earth, such a fiery,
fearful show, --
The roof-ribs swarth, the candent hearth, the ruddy,
lurid row
Of smiths that stand, an ardent band, like men
before the foe.
As, quivering through his fleece of flame, the
sailing monster slow
Sinks on the anvil, -- all about the faces fiery grow.
"Hurrah!" they shout, "leap out, leap out;"
bang, bang, the sledges go;
Hurrah! the jetted lightnings are hissing high and
low;
A hailing fount of fire is struck at every squashing
blow;
The leathern mail rebounds the hail; the rattling
cinders strew
The ground around; at every bound the sweltering
fountains flow;
And thick and loud the swinking crowd, at every
stroke, pant "Ho!"
Leap out, leap out, my masters; leap out and lay
on load!
Let's forge a goodly anchor, a bower, thick and
broad;
For a heart of oak is hanging on every blow, I
bode,
And I see the good ship riding, all in a perillous
road, --
The low reef roaring on her lee, the roll of ocean
poured
From stem to stern, sea after sea; the mainmast by
the board;
The bulwarks down, the rudder gone, the boats
stove at the chains, --
But courage still, brave mariners, the bower still
remains,
And not an inch to flinch he deigns save when ye
pitch sky-high,
Then moves his head, as though he said, "Fear
nothing, -- here am I!"
Swing in your strokes in order, let foot and hand
keep time;
Your blows make music sweeter far than any
steeple's chime.
But while you sling your sledges, sing; and let the
burden be,
The Anchor is the Anvil King, and royal crafts-
men we!
Strike in, strike in, the sparks begin to dull their
rustling red!
Our hammers ring with sharper din, our work will
soon be sped;
Our anchor soon must change his bed of fiery rich
array
For a hammock at the roaring bows, or an oozy
couch of clay;
Our anchor soon must change the lay of merry
craftsmen here,
For the Yeo-heave-o, and the Heave-away and the
sighing seaman's cheer;
When, weighing slow, at eve they go -- far, far from
love and home,
And sobbing sweethearts, in a row, wail o'er the
ocean foam.
In livid and obdurate gloom, he darkens down at
last:
A shapely one he is, and strong as e'er from cat
was cast.
O trusted and trustworthy guard, if thou hadst life
like me,
What pleasures would thy toils reward beneath the
deep green sea!
O deep-sea diver, who might then behold such
sights as thou?
The hoary monsters' palaces! methinks what joy
't were now
To go plumb plunging down amid th' assembly of
the whales,
And feel the churned sea round me boil beneath
their scourging tails!
Then deep in tangle-woods to fight the fierce sea
unicorn,
And send him foiled and bellowing back, for all his
ivory horn;
To leave the subtle sworder-fish of bony blade for-
lorn;
And for the ghastly-grinning shark, to laugh his
jaws to scorn;
To leap down on the kraken's back, where mid Nor-
wegian isles
He lies, a lubber anchorage for sudden shallowed
miles,
Till snorting, like an under-sea volcano, off he
rolls;
Meanwhile to swing, a-buffeting the far-astonished
shoals
Of his back-browsing ocean calves; or, haply in a
cove,
Shell-strewn, and consecrate of old to some Undine's
love,
To find the long-haired mermaidens; or, hard by
icy lands,
To wrestle with the sea-serpent upon cerulean
sands.
O broad-armed fisher of the deep, whose sports can
equal thine?
The Dolphin weighs a thousand tons that tugs thy
cable line;
And night by night 't is thy delight, thy glory day
by day,
Through sable sea and breaker white, the giant
game to play;
But, shamer of our little sports! forgive the name I
gave, --
A fisher's joy is to destroy, thine office is to save.
O lodger in the sea-king's halls, couldst thou but
understand
Whose be the white bones, by thy side, or who that
dripping band,
Slow swaying in the heaving waves that round about
thee bend,
With sounds like breakers in a dream, blessing their
ancient friend:
O, couldst thou know what heroes glide with larger
steps round thee,
Thine iron side would swell with pride; thou'dst
leap within the sea!
Give honor to their memories who left the pleasant
strand
To shed their blood so freely for the love of father-
land, --
Who left their chance of quiet age and grassy
churchyard grave
So freely for a restless bed amid the tossing wave;
O, though our anchor may not be all I have fondly
sung,
Honor him for their memory whose bones he goes
among!




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