Cape Horn

Giles Dixey, 1893-1974

The foghorns echo on the gliding rain,
The cold sea sleeps, the sails droop, and the sun
Glimmers stone-cold; as though the storms in vain
Had died and left their weary work undone:
And miserable, lone,
The hidden land breathes and is lost again.
Chill from the creaking spars the vapour drips,
Stiff hang the ropes; and through the dimness move
The slow, wet, melancholy-bleating ships,
Mourning the days of tempest when they strove.
Not theirs is now the victor's grim delight,
Not now the triumph over wind and sea;
Sadly they creep amidst the creeping white,
Sadly they wander, drifting helplessly;
And round the savage Horn
Groping, afraid, on windless tides are borne.
And in the silence suddenly puffs the whale;
Swift round and round the scared Cape Pigeons fly:
The lurking winter has forgot the gale,
But under the sad sky
A pallid terror broods, and haunts the shaking sail.

p. 1935 or earlier

Republished here by kind permission of, and with thanks to, The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, who own the Dixey Family Papers.