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A Year of Poetry – Day 26

The wind blew high, the waters raved,
A ship drove on the land,
A hundred human creatures saved
Kneel’d down upon the sand.
Threescore were drown’d, threescore were thrown
Upon the black rocks wild,
And thus among them, left alone,
They found one helpless child.

A seaman rough, to shipwreck bred,
Stood out from all the rest,
And gently laid the lonely head
Upon his honest breast.
And travelling o’er the desert wide
It was a solemn joy,
To see them, ever side by side,
The sailor and the boy.

In famine, sickness, hunger, thirst,
The two were still but one,
Until the strong man droop’d the first
And felt his labors done.
Then to a trusty friend he spake,
‘Across the desert wide,
Oh, take this poor boy for my sake!’
And kiss’d the child and died.

Toiling along in weary plight
Through heavy jungle, mire,
These two came later every night
To warm them at the fire.
Until the captain said one day
‘O seaman, good and kind,
To save thyself now come away,
And leave the boy behind!’

The child was slumbering near the blaze:
‘O captain, let him rest
Until it sinks, when God’s own ways
Shall teach us what is best!’
They watch’d the whiten’d, ashy heap,
They touch’d the child in vain;
They did not leave him there asleep,
He never woke again.

— Charles Dickens, The Song of the Wreck

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