The Song of the Wreck

By Charles Dickens 1812–1870 Charles Dickens
The wind blew high, the waters raved,
      A ship drove on the land,
A hundred human creatures saved
      Kneel’d down upon the sand.
Three-score were drown’d, three-score were thrown
      Upon the black rocks wild,
And thus among them, left alone,
      They found one helpless child.

A seaman rough, to shipwreck bred,
      Stood out from all the rest,
And gently laid the lonely head
      Upon his honest breast.
And travelling o’er the desert wide
      It was a solemn joy,
To see them, ever side by side,
      The sailor and the boy.

In famine, sickness, hunger, thirst,
      The two were still but one,
Until the strong man droop’d the first
      And felt his labours done.
Then to a trusty friend he spake,
      “Across the desert wide,
O take this poor boy for my sake!”
      And kiss’d the child and died.

Toiling along in weary plight
      Through heavy jungle, mire,
These two came later every night
      To warm them at the fire.
Until the captain said one day,
      “O seaman good and kind,
To save thyself now come away,
      And leave the boy behind!”

The child was slumbering near the blaze:
      “O captain, let him rest
Until it sinks, when God’s own ways
      Shall teach us what is best!”
They watch’d the whiten’d ashy heap,
      They touch’d the child in vain;
They did not leave him there asleep,
      He never woke again.

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Poet Charles Dickens 1812–1870

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Religion, Living, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Relationships, Death, Parenthood, God & the Divine

Poetic Terms Common Measure, Rhymed Stanza, Ballad

Biography

Charles Dickens had one thing in common with his creation Thomas Gradgrind, the heartless utilitarian in Hard Times: a love of facts. Along with fourteen novels, many of them rich in topical allusion, Dickens produced a body of work as reporter, essayist, correspondent, and editor that constitutes a lifelong account of the facts of Victorian life as he knew them. However, this nonfiction is anything but a mere collection of . . .

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Poems by Charles Dickens

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Religion, Living, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Relationships, Death, Parenthood, God & the Divine

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Common Measure, Rhymed Stanza, Ballad

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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