THE WRECK OF THE DEUTSCHLAND (DEC. 6, 7, 1875) - Thomas Hood Poems

 
 

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THE WRECK OF THE DEUTSCHLAND (DEC. 6, 7, 1875)

[[A-text]]
to the happy memory of five Francisan nuns,
exiles by the Falck Laws, drowned between
midnight & morning of December 7 [[1875]].

Thou mastering me
  God! giver of breath and bread;
World's strand, sway of the sea;
  Lord of living & dead;
    Thou hast bound bones & veins in me, fastened me flesh,
  And after it álmost únmade, what with dread,
    Thy doing: & dost thou touch me afresh?
Over again I feel thy finger & find theé.

I did say yes
  O at lightning & lashed rod;
Thou heardst me truer than tongue confess
  Thy terror, O Christ, O God;
    Thou knowest the walls, altar & hour & night:
  The swoon of a heart that the sweep & the hurl of thee trod
    Hard down with a horror of height:
And the midriff astrain with leaning of, laced with fire of stress.

The frown of his face
  Before me, the hurtle of hell
Behind, where, where was a, where was a place?
  I whirled out wings that spell
    And fled with a fling of the heart to the heart of the Host.
  My heart, but you were dovewinged, I can tell,
    Carrier-witted, I am bold to boast,
To flash from the flame to the flame then, tower from the grace to the grace.

I am soft sift
  In an hourglass -- at the wall
Fast, but mined with a motion, a drift,
  And it crowds & it combs to the fall;
    I steady as a water in a well, to a poise, to a pane,
  But roped with, always, all the way down from the tall
    Fells or flanks of the voel, a vein
Of the gospel proffer, a pressure, a principle, Christ's gift.

I kiss my hand
  To the stars, lovely-asunder
Starlight, wafting him out of it; and
  Glow, glory in thunder;
    Kiss my hand to the dappled-with-damson west:
  Since, tho' he is under the world's splendour & wonder,
    His mystery must be instressed, stressed;
For I greet him the days I meet him, & bless when I understand.

Not out of his bliss
  Springs the stress felt
Nor first from heaven (and few know this)
  Swings the stroke dealt --
    Stroke & a stress that stars & storms deliver,
  That guilt is hushed by, hearts are flushed by & melt --
    But it rides time like riding a river
(And here the faithful waver, the faithless fable & miss).

It dates from day
  Of his going in Galilee;
Warm-laid grave of a womb-life grey;
  Manger, maiden's knee;
    The dense & the driven Passion, & frightful sweat:
  Thence the discharge of it, there its swelling to be,
    Tho' felt before, though in high flood yet --
What none would have known of it, only the heart, being hard at bay,

Is out with it! Oh,
  We lash with the best or worst
Word last! How a lush-kept plush-capped sloe
  Will, mouthed to flesh-burst,
    Gush! -- flush the man, the being with it, sour or sweet,
  Brim, in a flash, full! -- Hither then, last or first,
    To hero of Calvary, Christ,'s feet --
Never ask if meaning it, wanting it, warned of it -- men go.

Be adored among men,
  God, three-numberéd form;
Wring thy rebel, dogged in den,
  Man's malice, with wrecking & storm.
    Beyond saying sweet, past telling of tongue,
  Thou art lightning & love, I found it, a winter & warm;
    Father & fondler of heart thou hast wrung:
Hast thy dark descending & most art merciful then.

With an anvil-ding
  And with fire in him forge thy will
Or rather, rather then, stealing as Spring
  Through him, melt him but master him still:
    Whether át ónce, as once at a crash Paul,
  Or as Austin, a lingering-out sweet skill,
    Make mercy in all of us, out of us all
Mastery, but be adored, but be adored king.

"Some find me a sword; some
  The flange & the rail; flame,
Fang, or flood" goes Death on drum,
  And storms bugle his fame.
    But wé dréam we are rooted in earth -- Dust!
  Flesh falls within sight of us, we, though our flower the same,
    Wave with the meadow, forget that there must
The sour scythe cringe, & the blear share come.

On Saturday sailed from Bremen,
  American-outward-bound,
Take settler & seamen, tell men with women,
  Two hundred souls in the round --
    O Father, not under thy feathers nor ever as guessing
  The goal was a shoal, of a fourth the doom to be drowned;
    Yet díd the dark side of the bay of thy blessing
Not vault them, the million of rounds of thy mercy not reeve even them in?

Into the snows she sweeps,
  Hurling the haven behind,
The Deutschland, on Sunday; & so the sky keeps,
  For the infinite air is unkind,
    And the sea flint-flake, black-backed in the regular blow,
  Sitting Eastnortheast, in cursed quarter, the wind;
    Wiry & white-fiery & whírlwind-swivellèd snow
Spins to the widow-making unchilding unfathering deeps.

She drove in the dark to leeward,
  She struck -- not a reef or a rock
But the combs of a smother of sand: night drew her
  Dead to the Kentish Knock;
    And she beat the bank down with her bows & the ride of her keel:
  The breakers rolled on her beam with ruinous shock?
    And canvass & compass, the whorl & the wheel
Idle for ever to waft her or wind her with, these she end{~u}red.

Hope had grown grey hairs,
  Hope had mourning on,
Trenched with tears, carved with cares,
  Hope was twelve hours gone;
    And frightful a nightfall folded rueful a day
  Nor rescue, only rocket & light ship, shone,
    And lives at last were washing away:
To the shrouds they took, -- they shook in the hurling & horrible airs.

One stirred from the rigging to save
  The wild woman-kind below,
With a rope's end round the man, handy & brave --
  He was pitched to his death at a blow,
    For all his dreadnought breast & braids of thew:
  They could tell him for hours, dandled the to & fro
    Through the cobbled foam-fleece. What could he do
With the burl of the fountains of air, buck & the flood of the wave?

They fought with God's cold --
  And they could not & fell to the deck
(Crushed them) or water (and drowned them) or rolled
  With the sea-romp over the wreck.
    Night roared, with the heart-break hearing a heart-broke rabble,
  The woman's wailing, the crying of child without check --
    Till a lioness arose breasting the babble,
A prophetess towered in the tumult, a virginal tongue told.

Ah, touched in your bower of bone
  Are you! turned for an exquisite smart,
Have you! make words break from me here all alone,
  Do you! -- mother of being in me, heart.
    O unteachably after evil, but uttering truth,
  Why, tears! is it? tears; such a melting, a madrigal start!
    Never-eldering revel & river of youth,
What can it be, this glee? the good you have there of your own?

Sister, a sister calling
  A master, her master & mine! --
And the inboard seas run swirling & hawling?
  The rash smart sloggering brine
    Blinds her; but shé that weather sees óne thing, one;
  Has óne fetch ín her: she rears herself to divine
    Ears, & the call of the tall nun
To the men in the tops & the tackle rode over the storm's brawling.

She was first of a five & came
  Of a coifèd sisterhood.
(O Deutschland, double a desperate name!
  O world wide of its good!
    But Gertrude, lily, & Luther, are two of a town,
  Christ's lily & beast of the waste wood:
    From life's dawn it is drawn down,
Abel is Cain's brother and breasts they have sucked the same.)

Loathed for a love men knew in them,
  Banned by the land of their birth,
Rhine refused them, Thames would ruin them;
  Surf, snow, river & earth
    Gnashed: but thou art above, thou Orion of light;
  Thy unchancelling poising palms were weighing the worth,
    Thou martyr-master: in th{'y} sight
Storm flakes were scroll-leaved flowers, lily showers -- sweet heaven was astrew in them.

Five! the finding & sake
  And cipher of suffering Christ.
Mark, the mark is of man's make
  And the word of it Sacrificed.
    But he scores it in scarlet himself on his own bespoken,
  Before-time-taken, dearest prizèd & priced --
    Stigma, signal, cinquefoil token
For lettering of the lamb's fleece, ruddying of the rose-flake.

Joy fall to thee, father Francis,
  Drawn to the life that died;
With the gnarls of the nails in thee, niche of the lance, his
  Lovescape crucified
    And seal of his seraph-arrival! & these thy daughters
  And five-livèd & leavèd favour & pride,
    Are sisterly sealed in wild waters,
To bathe in his fall-gold mercies, to breathe in his all-fire glances.

Away in the loveable west,
  On a pastoral forehead of Wales,
I was under a roof here, I was at rest,
  And they the prey of the gales;
    She to the black-about air, to the breaker, the thickly
  Falling flakes, to the throng that catches and quails
    Was calling "O Christ, Christ, come quickly":
The cross to her she calls Christ to her, christens her wildworst Best.

The majesty! what did she mean?
  Breathe, arch & original Breath.
Is it lóve in her of the béing as her lóver had béen?
  Breathe, body of lovely Death.
    They were else-minded then, altogether, the men
  Wóke thee with a we are périshing in the wéather of Gennésaréth.
    Or ís it that she cried for the crown then,
The keener to come at the comfort for feeling the combating keen?

For how to the heart's cheering
  The down-dugged ground-hugged grey
Hovers off, the jay-blue heavens appearing
  Of pied & peeled May!
    Blue-beating & hoary-glow height; or night, still higher,
  With belled fire & the moth-soft Milky way,
    What by your measure is the heaven of desire,
The treasure never eyesight got, nor was ever guessed what for the hearing?

Nó, but it was nót these.
  The jading & jar of the cart,
Time's tásking, it is fathers that asking for ease
  Of the sodden-with-its-sorrowing heart,
    Not danger, electrical horror; then further it finds
  The appealing of the Passion is tenderer in prayer apart:
    Other, I gather, in measure her mind's
Burden, in wind's burly & beat of endragonèd seas.

But how shall I . . . make me room there:
  Reach me a ... Fancy, come faster --
Strike you the sight of it? look at it loom there,
  Thing that she ... There then! the Master,
    Ipse, the only one, Christ, King, Head:
  He was to cure the extremity where he had cast her;
    Do, deal, lord it with living & dead;
Let him ride, her pride, in his triumph, despatch & have done with his doom there.

Ah! there was a heart right!
  There was single eye!
Read the unshapeable shock night
  And knew the who & the why;
    Wording it how but by him that present & past,
  Heaven & earth are word of, worded by? --
    The Simon Peter of a soul! to the blast
Tárpéían-fast, but a blown beacon of light.

Jesu, heart's light,
  Jesu, maid's son,
What was the feast followed the night
  Thou hadst glory of this nun? --
    Féast of the óne wóman withóut stáin.
  For so conceivèd, so to conceive thee is done;
    But here was heart-throe, birth of a brain,
Word, that heard & kept thee & uttered thee óutríght.

Well, shé has thée for the pain, for the
  Patience: but pity of the rest of them!
Heart, go & bleed at a bitterer vein for the
  Comfortless unconfessed of them --
    No not uncomforted: lovely-felicitous Providence
  Fínger of a ténder of, O of a féathery délicacy, the bréast of the
    Maiden could obey so, be a bell to, ring óf it, and
Startle the poor sheep back! is the shipwrack then a harvest, does tempest carry the grain for thee?

I admire thee, master of the tides,
  Of the Yore-flood, of the year's fall;
The recurb & the recovery of the gulf's sides,
  The girth of it & the wharf of it & the wall;
    Staunching, quenching ocean of a motionable mind;
  Ground of being, & granite of it: pást áll
    Grásp Gód, thróned behínd
Death with a sovereignty that heeds but hides, bodes but abides;

With a mercy that outrides
  The all of water, an ark
For the listener; for the lingerer with a love glides
  Lower than death & the dark;
    A vein for the visiting of the past-prayer, pent in prison,
  The-last-breath penitent spirits -- the uttermost mark
    Our passion-plungèd giant risen,
The Christ of the Father compassionate, fetched in the storm of his strides.

Now burn, new born to the world,
  Doubled-naturèd name,
The heaven-flung, heart-fleshed, maiden-furled
  Miracle-in-Mary-of-flame,
    Mid-numberèd he in three of the thunder-throne!
  Not a dooms-day dazzle in his coming nor dark as he came;
    Kind, but royally reclaiming his own;
A released shówer, let flásh to the shíre, not a líghtning of fíre hard-húrled.

Dame, at our door
  Drówned, & among oúr shóals,
Remember us in the roads, the heaven-haven of the reward:
  Our Kíng back, Oh, upon énglish sóuls!
    Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east,
  More brightening her, rare-dear Britain, as his reign rolls,
    Pride, rose, prince, hero of us, high-priest,
Our héarts' charity's héarth's fíre, our thóughts' chivalry's thróng's Lórd.