The jolly skipper paused awhile,
And then again began;
“There is a Spectre Ship,” quoth he,
“A Ship of the Dead, that sails the sea,
And is called the Carmilhan.
“A ghostly ship, with a ghostly crew,
In tempests she appears;
And before the gale, or against the gale,
She sails without a rag of sail,
Without a helmsman steers.
“She haunts the Atlantic north and south,
But mostly the mid-sea,
Where three great rocks rise bleak and bare
Like furnace-chimneys in the air,
And are called the Chimneys Three.
“And ill beside the luckless ship
That meets the Carmilhan;
Over her decks the seas will leap,
She must go down into the deep,
And perish mouse and man.”
The captain of the Valdemar
Laughed loud with merry heart.
“I should like to see this ship,” said he;
“I should like to find these Chimneys Three,
That are marked down in the chart.
“I have sailed right over the spot,” he said,
“With a good stiff breeze behind,
When the sea was blue, and the sky was clear, —
You can follow my course by these pinholes here, —
And never a rock could find.”
And then he swore a dreadful oath,
He swore by the Kingdoms Three,
That should he meet the Carmilhan,
He would run her down, although he ran
Right into Eternity!
All this, while passing to and fro,
The cabin-boy had heard;
He lingered at the door to hear,
And drank in all, with greedy ear,
And pondered every word.
He was a simple country lad,
But of a roving mind;
“O, it must be like heaven,” thought he,
“Those far-off foreign lands to see,
And fortune seek and find!”
But in the fo’castle, when he heard
The mariners blaspheme,
He thought of home, he thought of God,
And his mother under the churchyard sod,
And wished it were a dream.
One friend on board that ship had he;
’T was the Klaboterman,
Who saw the Bible in his chest,
And made a sign upon his breast,
All evil things to ban.
The cabin windows have grown blank
As eyeballs of the dead;
No more the glancing sunbeams burn
On the gilt letters of the stern,
But on the figure-head;
On Valdemar Victorious,
Who looketh with disdain
To see his image in the tide
Dismembered float from side to side,
And reunite again.
“It is the tide,” those skippers cried,
“That swings the vessel so;
It is the tide; it rises fast,
’T is the time to say farewell at last,
’T is time for us to go.”
They shook the captain by the hand,
“Good luck! good luck!” they cried;
Each face was like the setting sun,
As, broad and red, they one by one
Went o’er the vessel’s side.
The sun went down, the full moon rose,
The tide was at its flood;
And all the winding creeks and bays
And broad sea-meadows seemed ablaze,
The sky was red as blood.
The southwest wind blew fresh and fair,
As fair as wind could be;
Bound for Odessa, o’er the bar,
With all sail set, the Valdemar
Went proudly out to sea.
The lovely moon climbs up the sky
As one who walks in dreams;
A tower of marble in her light,
A wall of black, a wall of white,
The stately vessel seems.