Frisian Ballad.

Frisian Ballad.

  A friendly correspondent requests the insertion of the following poem, as one omitted in Mr. Longfellow’s collection, and worthy of reprint:*


A Frisian, born in 1603 at Bolsward, and died at there 1666.

WILL* no more will delve the gravel;
Will to see the world will travel,
Will is weary of the plow:
Burn the plow, and blast the cattle,
Will will hear the billows rattle,
Will will be a hero now.

“Stay at home?—let cowards do it,
Stay at home?—and stay to rue it;
Drag the barrow—drag—and die;—
No! I’ll go and hunt for knowledge,
All the world shall be my college;
Thousands do so—why not I?

“Thee I’ll follow, noble Peter!†
Thou wert nobler far, and greater,
Than the noblest home-kept lord,
Battling like an ancient Roman,
For his country with his foeman,
Whom he chased with fire and sword.

“I will be a Dunkirk rover.
Ships that sail the wide waves over,
Laughing at the storm, I’ll see”—
So he seized the sword and banner,
And the fleet, tho’ heroes man her,
See no braver man than he.

On the shore his mother wept him.
Long. O! long, her fancy kept him
Imaged in the watery bier,
Kept him—but ’t was fancy only,
She was there—there late and lonely;
But her William was not there.

“Will!” she cries, “O! sad careering;
Will! O whither art thou steering!
Will! and is the world too small;
Will! my head with thought is shaking,
Will! my heart with grief is breaking,
Will! the grave will cover all.”

Then the sea rolls loud and louder,
Shrouding billows shroud the shrouder,
Mantling, mounting, mingling, mad;
Waves in opening waves ensheath them,
While the great fish toss beneath them—
Solemn scene—sublime—yet sad.

Now they fling them up to Heaven,
Now to deepest depths are driven,
Heaven and Hell are sporting here,
Shipwreck’d bark! can aught avail her?
O! the melancholy sailor,
Waves his grave-place and his bier!

Horrid, horrid thought to waken—
This the life that Will has taken;
He is on that dreadful sea—
Why so rash, and why so silly,
Why not build thy fortune Willy,
Out of busy trafficrie?

Pale I see him, midst the fighting,
Death is there, on all sides smiting;
Discord, darkness, and despair—
Death is there, I see him wrestle;
Lo! he flings the crashing vessel,
On the maddened breakers there.

Thoughtless Will! why wouldst thou sally
From the green sheep-covered valley,
Where sweet maidens sung, and smiled?
Birds among the green-wood watching,
In the streams the fishes catching,
Chasing game across the wild.

Nosegays of rich flowers they bound thee,
Branches of fair fruits they found thee,
More than thy desire would gain:
Death is on the wave, thou wearest
Folly’s warlike plumes—and dearest!
All my words are spent in vain.

Well, then—I’ll to Heaven commend thee,
May it bless thee—and befriend thee,
Let no mischief to thee come:
I will pray that God will save thee,
When the whirling waters lave thee,
And his angels guide thee home.

Will denies me, Will deceives me,
Will neglects me, Will he leaves me,
Will—(O heart, how hard thy beat!—)
He is on the fierce waves floated,
O! I see him—death devoted,
Midst the billows as they meet.

And I thrill with anguish shaking,
When I see those billows breaking,
High as mountains, deep as dells;
Cables snapping, masts are crashing,
And the waves like demons dashing
Fiercer as the tempest swells.

Shrieks and—silence! flung from ocean,
On a cliff, no voice, no motion
Of that clamor—not a breath;
Wildly yet the waves play round her,
O the shock!—I see her founder—
Thou hast done thy deed, O Death!

Can it be that mortal creature,
Bound for death by law of nature,
So precipitates the day:
Seeking that dark doom, which nothing,
Whether loving death, or loathing,
Nothing can seduce or stay.

Yet the hurricane is quiet,
And the breakers cease to riot,
When God’s mandate bids them cease;
He from death his prey oft seizes,
Ship and soul with gentle breezes,
Wafts into a port of peace.

Shall not prayers, and songs, and praises,
Wait upon his name who raises
Blessings from the seeds of wo;
Yes! for me my heart is thawing
Into hymns, that sweetly flowing,
Bring refreshment as they flow.

In the darkest hour a brightness
Shines—how thankless is the lightness
That mistrusts Him!—I will bend,
Bend in gratitude and meekness,
God will mercy find for weakness!
God! my Father, and my Friend!

Try Him, trust Him, the controller
Of the waves—the thunder-roller,
Lord of storms, and source of bliss—
Will shall yet return—O keep him—
I will watch—I will not weep him!
Love, prepare thy welcoming kiss!

* The original has wif (wave) designating the restlessness of the hero.
† The Groot Pier of the Hollandern, one of the most famous of their naval heroes of the sixteenth century.

“Frisian Ballad.” New-York Daily Tribune, 1 September 1845, p. 4.