A BATTERâ€™D, wreckâ€™d old man, Thrown on this savage shore, far, far from home, Pent by the sea, and dark rebellious brows, twelve dreary months, Sore, stiff with many toils, sickenâ€™d, and nigh to death, I take my way along the islandâ€™s edge, Venting a heavy heart.
I am too full of woe! Haply, I may not live another day; I can not rest, O Godâ€”I can not eat or drink or sleep, Till I put forth myself, my prayer, once more to Thee, Breathe, bathe myself once more in Theeâ€”commune with Thee, Report myself once more to Thee.
Thou knowest my years entire, my life, (My long and crowded life of active workâ€”not adoration merely;) Thou knowest the prayers and vigils of my youth; Thou knowest my manhoodâ€™s solemn and visionary meditations; Thou knowest how, before I commenced, I devoted all to come to Thee; Thou knowest I have in age ratified all those vows, and strictly kept them; Thou knowest I have not once lost nor faith nor ecstasy in Thee; (In shackles, prisonâ€™d, in disgrace, repining not, Accepting all from Theeâ€”as duly come from Thee.)
All my emprises have been fillâ€™d with Thee, My speculations, plans, begun and carried on in thoughts of Thee, Sailing the deep, or journeying the land for Thee; Intentions, purports, aspirations mineâ€”leaving results to Thee.
O I am sure they really come from Thee! The urge, the ardor, the unconquerable will, The potent, felt, interior command, stronger than words, A message from the Heavens, whispering to me even in sleep, These sped me on.
By me, and these, the work so far accomplishâ€™d (for what has been, has been;) By me Earthâ€™s elder, cloyâ€™d and stifled lands, uncloyâ€™d, unloosâ€™d; By me the hemispheres rounded and tiedâ€”the unknown to the known.
The end I know notâ€”it is all in Thee; Or small, or great, I know notâ€”haply, what broad fields, what lands; Haply, the brutish, measureless human undergrowth I know, Transplanted there, may rise to stature, knowledge worthy Thee; Haply the swords I know may there indeed be turnâ€™d to reaping-tools; Haply the lifeless cross I knowâ€”Europeâ€™s dead crossâ€”may bud and blossom there.
One effort moreâ€”my altar this bleak sand: That Thou, O God, my life hast lighted, With ray of light, steady, ineffable, vouchsafed of Thee, (Light rare, untellableâ€”lighting the very light! Beyond all signs, descriptions, languages!) For that, O Godâ€”be it my latest wordâ€”here on my knees, Old, poor, and paralyzedâ€”I thank Thee.
My terminus near, The clouds already closing in upon me, The voyage balkâ€™dâ€”the course disputed, lost, I yield my ships to Thee.
Steersman unseen! henceforth the helms are Thine; Take Thou commandâ€”(what to my petty skill Thy navigation?) My hands, my limbs grow nerveless; My brain feels rackâ€™d, bewilderâ€™d; Let the old timbers partâ€”I will not part! I will cling fast to Thee, O God, though the waves buffet me; Thee, Thee, at least, I know.
Is it the prophetâ€™s thought I speak, or am I raving? What do I know of life? what of myself? I know not even my own work, past or present; Dim, ever-shifting guesses of it spread before me, Of newer, better worlds, their mighty parturition, Mocking, perplexing me.
And these things I see suddenlyâ€”what mean they? As if some miracle, some hand divine unsealâ€™d my eyes, Shadowy, vast shapes, smile through the air and sky, And on the distant waves sail countless ships, And anthems in new tongues I hear saluting me.