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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII. 1876–79.

Introductory to Japan

The Sailing of Francis Xavier

By Friedrich Spee (1591–1635)

Anonymous translation

WHEN to Japan, the far distant,

Thought this man of God to go,

All assailed him with persistent

Words of warning and of woe.

Wind and weather, seas and surges,

Painted they before his eyes;

Each some misadventure urges,

Each some peril prophesies.

Silence! Speak not of the bitter

Tempest, nor of winds and seas,

Never Hero yet, nor Ritter,

Cared for such child-play as these.

Let the wind blow and the weather;

Flame of love by blowing grows;

Let the billows rage together;

Straight to heaven the billow goes.

Hey, then, leave the vain endeavor

To affright my soul with dread,

Soldier’s heart, or Martyr’s, never

Either powder feared or lead.

Spear and shaft and naked glaive or

Cannon, pistol, powder, all

Only make the soldier braver,

To the prize of honor call.

Let the wind and weather wrangling

Whet their horns in revel rout;

Let the billows growling, jangling,

Toss the shattered wrecks about!

On the briny field may riot

North and South and East and West,

He whose heart within is quiet

Never can be robbed of rest.

Who would not the sea confronting

Cross its thousand waves content,

If with bow and arrows hunting

Many thousand souls he went?

Who at any wind would tremble

Or its dripping pinions fear,

If he could but souls assemble;

Souls, beyond all measure dear?

Ho, ye billows strong and stately!

Ho, thou strong and lordly wind!

Never will I bow sedately;

To withstand you is my mind!

Souls, yes, souls I must have! Straightway

Saddle me my wooden steed;

We must from the harbor’s gateway

Gallop o’er the waves with speed.