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A Rhapsody Of Summer
by [?]

How many other ineffable days and nights have I known? All who can feel the thrilling of sea-winds, all who can have even one day amid grass and fair trees, grasp the time of delight, enjoy all beauties, do not pass in coarseness one single minute; and then, when the Guide comes to point your road through the strange gates, you may be like me–you may repine at nothing, for you will have much good to remember and scanty evil. It is good for me now to think of the thundering rush of the yacht as, with the great mainsail drawing heavily, she roared through the field of foam made by her own splendid speed, while the inky waves on the dim horizon moaned and the dark summer midnight brooded warmly over the dark sea. It is good to think of the strange days when the vessel was buried in wreaths of dark cloud, and the rush of the wind only drove the haze screaming among the shrouds. The vast dim mountains might not be pleasant to the eye of either seaman or landsman; but, when they poured their thundering deluge on a strong safe deck, we did not mind them. Happy hearts were there even in stormy warring afternoons; and men watched quite placidly as the long grim hills came gliding on. Then in the evenings there were chance hours when the dim forecastle was a pleasant place in bad weather. The bow of the vessel swayed wildly; the pitching seemed as if it might end in one immense supreme dive to the gulf, and the mad storming of the wind forced us to utter our simple talk in loudest tones. Gruff kindly phrases, without much wit or point, were good enough for us; perhaps even the appalling dignitary–yes, even the mate–would crawl in; and we listened to lengthy disjointed stories. And all the while the tremendous howl of the storm went on, and the merry lads who went out on duty had to rush wildly so as to reach the alley when a very heavy sea came over. The sense of strength was supreme; the crash of the gale was nothing; and we rather hugged ourselves on the notion that the fierce screaming meant us no harm. The curls of smoke flitted softly amid the blurred yellow beams from the lamp, and our chat went on while the monstrous billows grew blacker and blacker and the spray shone like corpse-candles on the mystic and mighty hills. And then the hours of the terrible darkness! To leave the swept deck while every vein tingled with the ecstasy of the gale! The dull warmth below was exquisite; the sly creatures which crept from their, dens and let the lamplight shine on their weird eyes–even the gamesome rats–had something merrily diabolic about them. Their thuds on the floor, their sordid swarming, their inexplicable daring–all gave a kind of minor current of diablerie to the rush and hurry of the stormy night; for they seemed to speak–and the creatures which on shore are odious appeared to be quite in place in the soaring groaning vessel. Ah, my brave forecastle lads, my merry tan-faced favourites, I shall no more see your quaint squalor, I shall no more see your battle with wind and savage waves and elemental turmoil! Some of you have passed to the shadows before me; some of you have only the ooze for your graves; and the others cannot ever hear my greeting again on the sweet mornings when the waves are all gay with lily-hued blossoms of foam.

Pale beyond porch and portal,
Crowned with dark flowers she stands,
Who gathers all things mortal
With cold immortal hands.

Gathers! And Proserpina will strew the flowers of foam that I may never see more–and then she will gather me.

All was good in the time of delight–all is good now that only a memory clings lovingly to the heart. Take my counsel. Rejoice in your day, and the night shall carry no dread for you.

June, 1889.