The Loss of the Eurydice

The recording of the poem is incomplete. Whether Whalley chose to read part of the poem or the recording has been truncated is not known.

Foundered March 24. 1878


The Eurydice – it concerned thee, O Lord:
Three hundred souls, O alas! on board,
     Some asleep unawakened, all un-
warned, eleven fathoms fallen

Where she foundered! One stroke
Felled and furled them, the hearts of oak!
   And flockbells off the aerial
Downs’ forefalls beat to the burial.

For did she pride her, freighted fully, on
Bounden bales or a hoard of bullion? –
   Precious passing measure,
Lads and men her lade and treasure.

She had come from a cruise, training seamen –
Men, boldboys soon to be men:
   Must it, worst weather,
Blast bole and bloom together?

No Atlantic squall overwrought her
Or rearing billow of the Biscay water:
   Home was hard at hand
And the blow bore from land.

And you were a liar, O blue March day.
Bright sun lanced fire in the heavenly bay;
   But what black Boreas wrecked her? he
Came equipped, deadly-electric,

A beetling baldbright cloud thorough England
Riding: there did storms not mingle? and
   Hailropes hustle and grind their
Heavengravel? wolfsnow, worlds of it, wind there?

Now Carisbrook keep goes under in gloom;
Now it overvaults Appledurcombe;
   Now near by Ventnor town
It hurls, hurls off Boniface Down.

Too proud, too proud, what a press she bore!
Royal, and all her royals wore.
   Sharp with her, shorten sail!
Too late; lost; gone with the gale.

This was that fell capsize,
As half she had righted and hoped to rise
   Death teeming in by her portholes
Raced down decks, round messes of mortals.

Then a lurch forward, frigate and men;
‘All hands for themselves’ the cry ran then;
   But she who had housed them thither
Was around them, bound them or wound them with her.

Marcus Hare, high her captain,
Kept to her – care-drowned and wrapped in
   Cheer’s death, would follow
His charge through the champ-white water-in-a-wallow.

All under Channel to bury in a beach her
Cheeks: Right, rude of feature,
   He thought he heard say
‘Her commander! and thou too, and thou this way.’

It is even seen, time’s something server,
In mankind’s medley a duty-swerver,
   At downright ‘No or yes?’
Doffs all, drives full for righteousness.

Sydney Fletcher, Bristol-bred,
(Low lie his mates now on watery bed)
   Takes to the seas and snows
As sheer down the ship goes.

Now her afterdraught gullies him too down;
Now he wrings for breath with the death deathgush brown;
   Till a lifebelt and God’s will
Lend him a lift from the sea-swill.

Now he shoots short up to the round air;
Now he gasps, now he gazes everywhere;
   But his eye no cliff, no coast or
Mark makes in the rivelling snowstorm.

Him, after an hour of wintry waves,
A schooner sights, with another, and saves,
   And he boards her in Oh! such joy
He has lost count what came next, poor boy. –

They say who saw one sea-corpse cold
He was all of lovely manly mould,
   Every inch a tar,
Of the best we boast our sailors are.

Look, foot to forelock, how all things suit! he
Is strung by duty, strained to beauty,
   And brown-as-dawning-skinned
With brine and shine and whirling wind.

O his nimble finger, his gnarled grip!
Leagues, leagues of seamanship
   Slumber in these forsaken
Bones, this sinew, and will not awaken.