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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Oceanica: Vol. XXXI. 1876–79.

Miscellaneous: The Ocean

The Stormy Petrel

By Bryan Waller Procter (1787–1874)

A THOUSAND miles from land are we,

Tossing about on the roaring sea;

From billow to bounding billow cast,

Like fleecy snow on the stormy blast:

The sails are scattered abroad, like weeds,

The strong masts shake, like quivering reeds,

The mighty cables, and iron chains,

The hull, which all earthly strength disdains,

They strain and they crack, and hearts like stone

Their natural hard, proud strength disown.

Up and down! Up and down!

From the base of the wave to the billow’s crown,

And amidst the flashing and feathery foam

The stormy petrel finds a home,—

A home, if such a place may be,

For her who lives on the wide, wide sea,

On the craggy ice, in the frozen air,

And only seeketh her rocky lair

To warm her young, and to teach them to spring

At once o’er the waves on their stormy wing!

O’er the deep! O’er the deep!

Where the whale and the shark and the sword-fish sleep,

Outflying the blast and the driving rain,

The Petrel telleth her tale—in vain;

For the mariner curseth the warning bird

Who bringeth him news of the storms unheard!

Ah! thus does the prophet, of good or ill,

Meet hate from the creatures he serveth still:

Yet he never falters. So, Petrel! spring

Once more o’er the waves on thy stormy wing!