Should Tides Favour
Beauty cannot conquer, when Duty’s damning trumpet calls,
Bravery with honour is at times less able than sharp, cold steel,
Yet, dreams may serve if else fails, when night’s sable curtain falls
A commission in faith, as well as deed, is still a thing quite real,
Gaze at starshine in your eyes reflected, my soul's desire,
Such long wait for blessed chance; hold you closer in my arms,
Please dance with me tonight, under soft veil of faery fire.
Have you nestle tight 'gainst my shoulder, our hearts beating time.
For this one moment, I've hard duty laid aside, my love,
Of worldly care I want no remind, while at Heaven's gate.
King and country must now wait; to you I'm called from Above.
Sweetest parting gift, for on the morrow I must sail.
I wish only your tears dry, caress smile, stand by your side.
We've both long known this day would come, when I at last depart.
I'm by honour bound His Majesty's fighting ships to guide,
Though, here with you, I've found glory, as angel's sole consort.
The memory of this eve, your silhouette close I'll keep,
To bring me comfort when far leagues from fair Albion's shores,
Whispering love eternal, that in my breast lives so deep,
Will be my strength through storm-scour'd seas, the battles not yet won.
Just one last waltz before ball's done, all I request of you,
A gentle touch at your waist, other palm clasped by mine,
My darling, I pledge you my life, afore I bid adieu,
Promise me, should tides favour, to be my Lady, forevermore
Harsh sailors’ cries, stronger words as she’s readied to set her canvas sail,
Bosun’s pipe shrill blast bodes ill for them, those who would malinger,
Salute’s Queen Anne as he boards, then waves, leaning ‘gainst the rail
What then must I face within cruel cell of patience, as I long for your sail home.
Am I consigned to linger in summer’s perfumed garden, attended by only tears,
To hold in my heart nothing, dear Lieutenant, but bitter pride for His Majesty’s Fleet?
My darling, you bade me wait in troth; I shall, yet I’ve too many nighttime fears.
You’ve left for certain fame, sweet glory, perhaps quick fortune from taken prize,
I am to sew a swan-white gown, anticipating blessed flame of wedding’s night.
Sitting here close to altar, listening to deacon’s quiet drone, I still feel your ocean eyes,
So alone as I pray from my Book, beg understand veiled mystery of His plan for us.
Is this the day when Fate delivers hoped-for news, as autumn’s chill rain softly falls?
The path outside high gate slick, gold leaf strewn, muffles approach of rider’s beat.
Our lives, cord bound by uncertain tides, fierce storms, foul pirate’s mortal deceit,
Must take comfort from words you’ve penn’d, with salt strange to England’s shores.
I’ll return, then, close to fire, warm myself with dreams of strong arms ‘round me
As you glide ‘cross smooth green seas, I request, remember dance, our passion’s heat.
Might wish upon forlorn star that He should grant all I ask, as such I’d rather be…
Mere existence seems my Destiny, ‘til gulls’ cry borne on western wind calls your name.
Love was a promise not long ago, spoken but briefly, yet with Poseidon’s utmost depth.
Once thought of Yuletide merry, laughing children’s’ antics, as snow whispered outside,
Again denied your touch this fell winter, still I ask Him, guide your ship to safe harbour,
Farewell tonight, fair seas to you in my sleep I’ll send… As God wills, I will be your bride.
North Sea’s gale winds scream sleet, ticking ice ‘gainst the death cold panes,
She sits, listening to harpsichord, as Father rails politics, upbraiding France,
Hope fills her secret diary; words, life’s blood now, as full moon slowly wanes
My darling, before the end, I must write to you of sad tale,
West Indies warmth cannot dispel chill, I feel now in my bones,
They'll board us soon, our dishonour, strike King's jack, lower sail,
I fear I'll not be ransom's prize; grape's whiff has seen to that.
Began pursuit as glass spied what was thought French merchant's cloth,
Pressed we were to close on her, for with the wind she was quick,
We raised all sheets full aloft, bow lancing through em'rald froth
At approach to realize, not four guns, but thirty-two.
Unprepared, took two blows full ‘midships; raked, stem to stern.
Fought back with half cannon, though not enough; cringed as mizzen fell.
Paid stiff price, white hot lead in our guts; such reward does eager earn.
Captain's gone, soon I'll follow; Minerva to fly fleur de lis.
Forgive these hasty stains left on page, crimson life mix'd with bitter tears,
I shall place it in my first mate's hands, with hope it might find yours,
To grant then you release from your holy vow, all those forever years,
Sworn fast to each other, before I parted England's shores.
Clutch'd now to my stilling heart, your locket close I will keep,
A prayer once more to see your eyes, beneath stars, dance again,
Brush my lips 'gainst your hand, 'fore I'm commended to the deep...
Colder now, Carib's sun; I leave you my love, await dark shroud.
Too many men’d fallen when powder’s blast did soon three guns dismount,
Or et azure took place of royal red on white, as crew burned officers’ papers,
Frost thawed with great reluctance, as she passing days did slowly count.
I still walk the streets we traveled, shopping ‘bout town’s market square
Wait for carriage to bear me fleet back home, I recall your gentle voice
An answer is all I demand from you, as post has gone unnoticed, it seems,
From you, plain “yea” or “nay”; or has lure of Jamaican spice muddled choice?
I can hold for just so long, else I must my journey with some other continue.
Only pray you have not lost memory of what we shared, now so long past,
That perhaps these days gone by have sharp’d desire, you know my need,
There’s hope I keep, near my soul, ‘tis mere slight of breeze that stays you fast.
Wonder if this spring will see billow’d sail when you heel to port, here with me to stay.
It’s maybe simple fancy, yet I think I hear black terns weep, though I will ne’er heed.
A fool’s thought, you might not return, yet, in its passing my feet become as clay,
Wild dreams disturb my sleep, laudanum’s no relief, I feel blood pour from my breast.
I haven’t received sign, nor word from you, these months that you’ve been gone
Strength left to me wavers, I plead you should forgive weakness, it’s more than hard
To fight will’s doubt, at season’s change, while wain takes harvest’s reap to mill, guard
‘Gainst walls I try so not to build, yet left to defend without shield you could provide.
Will you never hold me then, close in your arms, the way you must some Indies maid,
Have me for your eternal wife, said long years ago, such that I believed in you,
Or forsake offer of maidenhood, gladly promised, sole bless’d oath I’ve ever made?
My love, days grow forever closer, sisters marry, Father’s buried, from you, no reply.
Always-gray new day dawns, no minding weather, still she strolls down to stony pier,
Longshoremen know her now by sight, doff caps when she’s finally noticed,
Listens to ships’ oak joints creak, knowing, somehow, that he will someday appear.
Ghostly shade, tender kiss as she rests, ashes carried on languid waves, home now,
Two score years past eighteen, since she’s felt those kind lips touch her cheek,
Through opium’s haze she reaches, desperate for his embrace, to fulfill her vow,
Murmurs his name, sanctified, welcoming chill mist that surrounds her, then penetrates.
Sweeter than any sack she’s ever sipped, stronger than stallion ridden ‘neath her,
Souls entwine to never separate, accepting encircling black, foregoing white,
Breath quickens with divine sensation, shadow’s torch sets nether pyre ablaze,
Wed in spirit, though not in name, she sighs, ready at last to sleep into long night.
Pale as mourning lilies, her servants tried to wake, not seeing bliss-filled smile,
They’d never know the joy, when she spoke his name with last, hushed spark,
Finally to abide with him, to know she’s his only queen on some enchanted isle,
Though all discussed heartbreak as cause of her passing, they would never know.
Stars reflect heart’s real desire, allowing only whatever one’s soul truly holds,
Whether kept at arm’s length, or drawn closer, as token chance might allow,
‘Tis worth ‘least one dance, to perhaps peer past what mystery’s haze enfolds,
For love may play part less often than wished, and heart’s ache, is rarely cured.