Dirge for a Sailor

SLOW, slow ! toll it low,
As the sea-waves break and flow;
With the same dull, slumberous motion
As his ancient mother, Ocean,
Rocked him on, through storm and calm,
From the iceberg to the palm:
So his drowsy ears may deem
That the sound which breaks his dream
Is the ever-moaning tide
Washing on his vessel’s side.
Slow, slow! as we go,
Swing his coffin to and fro ;
As of old the lusty billow
Swayed him on his heaving pillow :
So that he may fancy still,
Climbing up the watery hill,
Plunging in the watery vale,
With her wide-distended sail,
His good ship securely stands
Onward to the golden lands.
Slow, slow ! — heave-a-ho ! —
Lower him to the mould below ;
With the well-known sailor ballad,
Lest he grow more cold and pallid
At the thought that Ocean’s child,
From his mother’s arms beguiled,
Must repose for countless years,
Reft of all her briny tears,
All the rights he owned by birth,
In the dusty lap of earth.