David MacDonald Ross (1865-?)

The Silent Tide

I heard Old Ocean raise her voice and cry,
In that still hour between the night and day;
I saw the answering tides, green robed and gray,
Turn to her with a low contented sigh;
Marching with silent feet they passed me by,
For the white moon had taught them to obey,
And scarce a wavelet broke in fretful spray,
As they went forth to kiss the stooping sky.

So, to my heart, when the last sunray sleeps,
And the wan night, impatient for the moon,
Throws her gray mantle over land and sea,
There comes a call from out Life's nether deeps,
And tides, like some old ocean in a swoon,
Flow out, in soundless majesty, to thee.

The Watch on Deck

Becalmed upon the equatorial seas,
A ship of gold lay on a sea of fire;
Each sail and rope and spar, as in desire,
Mutely besought the kisses of a breeze;
Low laughter told the mariners at ease;
Sweet sea-songs hymned the red sun's fun'ral pyre:
Yet One, with eyes that never seemed to tire,
Watched for the storm, nursed on the thunder's knees.

Thou watcher of the spirit's inner keep,
Scanning Death's lone, illimitable deep,
Spread outward to the far immortal shore!
While the vault sleeps, from the upheaving deck,
Thou see'st the adamantine reefs that wreck,
And Life's low shoals, where lusting billows roar.


When, with low moanings on the distant shore,
Like vain regrets, the ocean-tide is rolled:
When, thro' bare boughs, the tale of death is told
By breezes sighing, "Summer days are o'er";
When all the days we loved -- the days of yore --
Lie in their vaults, dead Kings who ruled of old --
Unrobed and sceptreless, uncrowned with gold,
Conquered, and to be crowned, ah! never more.

If o'er the bare fields, cold and whitening
With the first snow-flakes, I should see thy form,
And meet and kiss thee, that were enough of Spring;
Enough of sunshine, could I feel the warm
Glad beating of thy heart 'neath Winter's wing,
Tho' Earth were full of whirlwind and of storm.

(Texts from An Anthology of Australian Verse (1907?) from Project Gutenberg.)