When the glass goes down, and the wind gets up,
And the seas go boiling past,
And it starts to howl, and the white streaked waves
Rise higher than your mast,
Well past the stage where Beaufort says
That spindrift starts to form,
You may fairly state, and beyond debate,
You are witnessing a storm.
All the while you stand on your long dark watch,
And sea follows after sea.
Each answering pitch to the sea’s steep fetch
Brings a power of mystery.
Gone a thousand years or a month ago
With those who went last tide,
All the air blows live with the kindly ghosts
Of the seafarers who died.
And these friendly souls surrounding you
Prohibit all thought of fear
In the face of risk and some perils too,
So your mind is calm and clear.
Each one of them has passed beyond
That unknown one way gate,
And they know the game, and they understand,
And they’ll help you through your fate.
If your time has come, may you meet it well
With the spirits gone before,
But you’ll mostly live with a tale to tell
That they can’t accept ashore.
So when storms arise in the curdling skies,
And she starts to wallop and shake,
You should open your mind and your ears and your eyes,
For the dead themselves are awake.
©2008 C. R. Hilton