Timothy Thomas Fortune

She dwelt near by the ocean wide;
The lighthouse was her earliest home;
From infancy she watched the tide
From out her elevated dome,
And saw the vessels swiftly glide
Upon the phosphorescent foam.

She came to love her eyry seat
Among the friendly clouds so high,
For there 'twas calm; her breast could beat
So free she ne'er had cause to sigh;
'Twas there life's pleasure came to greet
Her as the years went slowly by.

For miles along the stormy coast
Her praises loud by all were sung;
And many fearless lads did boast
Of deeds of strength from her that sprung;
And, too, the hardy fisher's toast
With the same theme as often rung.

It was when blew the winds a storm
In March, the month of wail and wind,
That from the ocean came alarm
From those the elements did blind;
And paralyzed was each stout arm,
And direst fear was in each mind.

And not a soul for miles around,
Upon the shore, was near to aid,
Except the lighthouse girl. The sound,
Borne on the breeze, in sadness played,
And every other wail was drowned;
But she, brave girl, was not dismayed!

Fearless she stood, a woman true,
A beauty and a joyous thing,
Amid the storm-as if she knew
Its furious rage to her could bring
No human fear, though it should brew
Dread death, and back her efforts fling!

'Twas Duty gave to her the post
To guide the mariner afar,
And Duty held her there. A host,
Bright as the morning's brightest star,
Or terrible as Hell at most,
Her constant purpose could not mar!

The elements did fiercer rage;
The vessel on the billows heaved,
And louder grew the din! The wage
Of war from such, I'm sure 's relieved,
For such the art of every age
Has taught to curb what Fury weaved.

Nearer the fated vessel came,
Careering to the treacherous shore;
A toy she rode, like men on fame,
And, short as theirs, her course is o'er,
For hidden rocks will sink her name
Too soon from sight forevermore.

The lifeboat from its place she swung
And launched it on the tempest wave,
Then grasped the oars, with courage young,
And with a skillful hand did lave
Their tips-while Ocean loudly sung
That those she sought she could not save!

But Ocean's wail, old Neptune's groan,
Could not her resolution check;
His vaunted power she would not own;
And, though she was a tiny speck,
Superior to his dismal moan
She was, amid the furious wreck.

About her on the vasty deep
Attendants there she knew were near,
Her constant company to keep!
What if she did the storm-king hear,
Who roused the finny tribes from sleep?
She was serene. Why should she fear?

There hovers o'er the brave and wise
A guardian not of this vain world;
A guide before them ever flies
Whose banner bright is never furled;
And 'gainst Him force of Hell may rise
But into atoms to be hurled!

Mirama on the billows rode,
Triumphant in her fragile might.
She was at ease, she knew the road,
Though hid from her far-reaching sight
By darkness all around, o'erflowed,
Creating phantoms of the night!

Still, as the lightning darts through air,
The vessel sped towards the shore;
A thing of fright, with danger near,
A living soul, could be no more
Affrighted with a ghastly fear
Than she, that knew not what she bore!

Her human freight dismayed, aghast,
Inactive were! They could but weep,
As ceaseless wailed the stormy blast
And shook afar the vasty deep!
Sweet Hope to them was of the past,
And in the past their hope must sleep!

She struck! Then madly forward sped!
While from her rose a cry of woe
Which must have reached the phantom dead,
Borne on the wings of winds below-
If there be access to that bed
Where rest the souls that from us go!

And she made haste to them relieve,
And soon was by them on the wave;
But sorely did the maiden grieve
That, of the valiant and the brave,
They most of them she needs must leave-
But one from death could she then save!

She stood with oars extended high;
Her craft was stout, 'gainst weather strong;
But death around her and so nigh
Bore life and fondest hopes along,
While wind and wave did roar and sigh,
And brazen Neptune led the song!

How much sore pain a generous heart
Must feel, when those it sought to aid,
By one dread stroke are borne apart
From Hope and prostrate, helpless laid,
Beyond the succor of man's art,
Which fails, as all by man that's made

No life without a tearful page!
No man has lived who has not felt
The tempest in its stormy rage!
The virgin snow the sun will melt,
And beauty fade by strokes of age,
And forms be bent that never knelt!

Yet, from the ashes of our hope,
We often gain a strength unknown,
And, e'en in disappointment, grope
With surer tread our pathway lone!
Misfortune sometimes gives us scope
To feast on joys we thought had flown.

Although she mourned so many lost
To whom she sought their lives to give,
Men still did of her prowess boast-
For was not one of them alive!
Is not one heart that beats a host
When it is left with us to strive?

Yes, one brave heart that strongly beats-
Warm, pure, and to devotion true-
Is worth an army dead! The sweets
Of life he knows, and they're not few,
Who, coming home from roaming, greets
Those whom from infancy he knew.

That night of storm and death she ne'er,
In future works of love, forgot;
And, noble maiden! did revere
The giver of her happy lot
To cheer the wind-tossed mariner
And thwart the storm-king when he'd plot!

For she had learned by courage rare
The good that she alone could do;
'Tis oft we know, but will not dare,
The deeds which mark the hero true,
But in our servile nature bear
To see them done but by the few!

Long may she live and ever prove
A woman may be true and brave;
Nor made alone was she to love,
But deeds can dare which lives do save,
For He who rules us from above
Has crowned her "Mistress of the Wave"!

Last updated November 04, 2022