Henry O'Meara Ballads of America

Decoration

THE HERO COAST GUARD

DEDICATED TO CAPTAIN FAMES AND THE LIFE-SAVERS AT NANTASKET
"ANOTHER wreck upon the rocks!" - the sharp cry seemed a knell
That cleft the storm, and on the ears of toil-spent surfmen fell;
All night a captain valorous and a voluntary crew
Swerveless had fought the sea - and now their summons comes anew.
 
Thrice from the wrath of waves they wrest lorn ships and freights of lives -
At weary dawn this call from dread Atlantic Reefs arrives.
On Stony Beach, on fissured bluff, they speed their desperate way,
With boat and buoy through blinding sleet-gusts and disputing spray.
Now they descry the sufferers in the shrouds, but know not pause -
A ship lies crushed on boulders in that ledge's cruel jaws.
 
"Quick -push the lifeboat off!" "It can't live here," a follower cries;
"It must - those men aloft must live," the leader wroth replies;
The Hunt-gun's hope-charged missile spans the bow - the hawser's fast -
Good! swing the breeches-buoy!" a saving link is clutched at last.
'Tis vain - the whip-line is entangled in the wreckage there!"
On ship. and shore a sense of fate is settling to despair;
 
"Yet see!" a fisher's smack, unawed by what those scenes forbode,
Manned by three dauntless souls, athwart the raging maelstrom rowed.
They're lost!" the captain moans - "but where that fragile craft has been
Should we not be, aboard the sturdiest boat this coast has seen?"
Answering with oars they near the ship despite the angered main,
Nor flinch, though baffling breakers fling them back again.
 
A struggling hour of noble onset waged for pendant life -
A firm-held place abreast the mainmast ends the awful strife.
Now, through that nest of death beneath the half-furled sail,
One figure moves from toppling mizzen safe to trembling rail.
His comrades follow, and 'mid cheers are brought to joyous reach;
The rescuers and rescued, all are borne along the beach.
 
But ah! not all - never can pleasure come from aught complete.
What form is that, the piteous, white face pleading in the sheet?
A young wife clam'rous cries, "My husband's saved? Speak - where is he?
Why have you left one man alone? 0, point him now to me!"
Nerved where stern danger calls, unnerved their hearts where anguish crowds,
The heroes, wordless, show her that man lashed amid the shrouds.
 
Praise to these oaric knights while rocks be- speak their record won,
Their deeds of new-wrought chivalry, of un priced duty done!
Perils by land and sea are shared, each searching Valor's core -
Their courage as their calling binds the ocean and the shore.

 
Decoration
BOSTON TO MARIETTA CONTENTS WELCOME TO THE WHITE FLEET

 

Edited and formatted by Sheldon Brown

updated Wednesday, April 19, 2000
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