An Open Boat

O, what is that whimpering there in the darkness?

'Let him lie in my arms. He is breathing, I know.
Look. I'll wrap all my hair round his neck' - 'The sea's rising,
The boat must be lightened. He's dead. He must go.'

See - quick - by that flash, where the bitter foam tosses,
The cloud of white faces, in the black open boat,
And the wild pleading woman that clasps her dead lover
And wraps her loose hair round his breast and his throat.

'Come, lady, he's dead.' - 'No, I feel his heart beating,
He's living, I know. But he's numbed with the cold.
See, I'm wrapping my hair all around him to warm him.' -
- 'No. We can't keep the dead, dear. Come, loosen your hold.

'Come. Loosen your fingers.' - ' O God, let me keep him!' -

O, hide it, black night! Let the winds have their way!
And there are no voices or ghosts from that darkness,
To fret the bare seas at the breaking of day.

by Alfred Noyes

Comments (8)

There in the darkness! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.
Nicely works is done here with the lively images well painted in this poem...
My first time reading this, but I’m interested to explore more of Noyes’ poetry. This well-crafted poem with a minimum of words conveys a poignant story of survival at sea and grief. -GK
Telling rhymes when they force the need for action. 'he's numbed with cold'. 'come loosen your hold'. A sad poem where we have no power to enter or change life as and when it departs.
Come. Loosen your fingers.' - ' O God, let me keep him! ' touching. Beautiful poem.
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