The Homing of Drake

By George Sterling

Drake's Bay, September 29, 1579.

Was it the night that foiled his daring eyes,
Or passed he in the blindness of the fog
To-south, nor dreamt what keep of empire stood
So near his grasp? I can but deem it strange
That God withheld from England in that hour
The incomparable haven, that His veils
Were somehow on the insatiate sight of Drake,
So that the land is not to-day her dow'r—
She, fostered since by all His winds and tides I
For then, as now, the Port lay vast with peace,
The hills were wardens of the far-sought gold,
And streams were glad in valleys unprofaned,
Rich as that France she harried. Had he seen,
In time his tale had set her out-post here,
Guard of the coast forever. But his eyes
Were holden. and our waters checked him not—
For leagues beyond the grey and desolate Gate
Stained from swart rivers! Saw he not the clue?—
Nay, blind to empire sundered from his sight,
He passed, the intrepid, and the Golden Hind,
A waif in hostile deserts of the deep,
Fled homeward, to such issues as are told,
When but a glance, or quickening of the sense,
Had shattered thrones, and rent the bourns of rule,
And broken crownéd fames, and swerved the course
Of all the tides of conquest round the world.

The Fates have mighty darkness at their seats,
Nor use revealing stars. Wherefore to us
Time's sea is strange, nor learn we to what Law
Our needle veers, nor witness, for the Dark,
What Shapes inscrutable stand at the helm,
Nor whence (amazed) the ordaining winds that urge
Our keels to harbors other than we dream.

A Wine of Wizardry and Other Poems by George Sterling, A.M Roberston, 1909.

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