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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

New England: Isles of Shoals, N. H.

The Spaniards’ Graves at the Isles of Shoals

By Celia Thaxter (1835–1894)

O SAILORS, did sweet eyes look after you,

The day you sailed away from sunny Spain?

Bright eyes that followed fading ship and crew,

Melting in tender rain?

Did no one dream of that drear night to be,

Wild with the wind, fierce with the stinging snow,

When, on yon granite point that frets the sea,

The ship met her death-blow?

Fifty long years ago these sailors died:

None know how many sleep beneath the waves;

Fourteen gray headstones, rising side by side,

Point out their nameless graves,—

Lonely, unknown, deserted, but for me,

And the wild birds that flit with mournful cry,

And sadder winds, and voices of the sea

That moans perpetually.

Wives, mothers, maidens, wistfully, in vain

Questioned the distance for the yearning sail,

That, leaning landward, should have stretched again

White arms wide on the gale,

To bring back their beloved. Year by year,

Weary they watched, till youth and beauty passed,

And lustrous eyes grew dim, and age drew near,

And hope was dead at last.

Still summer broods o’er that delicious land,

Rich, fragrant, warm with skies of golden glow:

Live any yet of that forsaken band

Who loved so long ago?

O Spanish women, over the far seas,

Could I but show you where your dead repose!

Could I send tidings on this northern breeze,

That strong and steady blows!

Dear dark-eyed sisters, you remember yet

These you have lost, but you can never know

One stands at their bleak graves whose eyes are wet

With thinking of your woe!