THE MID WATCH
[Note.- While drifting through the newspapers, some of this ballad has
been lost, and the remainder mutilated. It is now restored to its original
. form by P. J. McCourt, M.D., for this Journal.-Ed.]
I pace the deck in the dead of night,
When the moon and the star-light fail,
When the cordage creaks in the lazy swell,
And heavily flaps the sail.
On the darkness glimmers the binnacle-lamp,
With a feeble and lonely spell-
No sound but the passing sentry's tramp,
Or his measured cry, "All's well."
To and fro, with accustomed step,
I walk in the night alone,
And I think of the thousand watches kept
In the years forever flown;
Of the friends in whose manly fellowship
I labored long ago,
Till death relieved their watch on earth,
And they went to rest below.
And I think of the gallant ones who died
When our broadside shook the sea,
And sorrow for them subdued the pride
Of our cheers of victory;
Or of those who fell in the fever lands.
Or sank in the 'whelming wave,
While their corpses rest on the barren sands,
Or float in a fathomless grave.
And the looks revive that were faint and dim
In the shadows of the years;
And I scan them o'er till my eye-lids swim
With the strange delight of tears.
They people the dark with their pallid brows.
As they silently throng around,
And the sea its phosphor radiance throws
On the faces of the drowned.
So many a noble heart is cold
That shared my duties then;
I have looked full oft in the face of death,
But he comes to better men.
And let him come in his chosen time,
Some friend will think of me.
And I shall live in the lonely hours
Of his midnight watch at sea.