And turning toward the yellow sky
I sank beneath the unmoved sun,
And cried "May Heaven's grace return
Or take us if our breath done!"
But in that hour, I felt a breath;
A kiss upon my burning skin,
And looked, and saw, there from the north,
A wind! Praise be to God! A wind!
And all the crew, up from the hold,
Was standing at the heaving rail,
"We're saved!" the bos'n cried, but I
Fell silent at the coming gale.
This is that ill-famed northern wind
Of which the old time sailor spoke,
'It blows to God-forsaken lands.'
"For sure, it brings the crew relief,
And sweeps the waves with glorious strength,
But only takes a ship one way -
To death," I said, "And to the grave."
"Away with him!" the bos'n cried,
And crossed me with an evil eye,
"We'll set the sails and take the wind
And reach our port, or else I die!"
The captain's face was turned away;
"We have no choice, my friend," said he,
And told the bos'n, "Set the sails,
And bring her 'round, back to the east!"
And so the ship heeled hard to port -
The seas were washing or'e the decks;
The wind had caught her, thrust her fo'ard,
The canvas strained, the rigging stretched!
I looked upon the darkening sky;
Black clouds descended with the wind
And towered, like the gates of hell,
Above the frantic, struggling men,
Whose faces wore unbounded glee
As from their lips the gale tore
Mad laughter which I could not hear;
Mad hope to see that eastern shore.