Upon the deck fair Gunhild stands
And gazes on the billows blue;
She sees reflected there beneath,
The moon and the bright stars too.
She sees the moon and the lovely stars
On the clear calm sea--the while
Her steady bark glides gently on
To Britain's distant isle.
'Twas long since her betrothed love
Had sought, alas! that foreign strand;
And bitterly had Gunhild wept
When he left his native land.
He promised tidings oft to send--
He promised soon to come again;
But never tidings reached her ear--
She looked for him in vain!
Fair Gunhild could no longer bear
Such anxious, sad suspense;
One gloomy night from her parents' home,
She fled,--and hied her thence.
Mounting yon vessel's lofty side,
To seek her love she swore--
Whether he lay in ocean's depths,
Or slept on a foreign shore.
Three days had she been toss'd upon
Wild ocean's heaving wave,
When the sea became at the midnight hour
As still as the solemn grave.
On the high deck the maiden stood,
Gazing upon the deep so blue;
She saw reflected there beneath,
The moon and the bright stars too.
The crew were wrapt in hush'd repose,
The very helmsman slept,
While the maiden clad in robes of white,
Her midnight vigil kept.
'Twas strange!--at that still hour--behold!
A vessel from the deep ascends--
It flutters like a shadow there,
Then near, its course it bends.
No sail was spread to catch the breeze;
Its masts lay shattered on the deck;
And it did not steer one steady course,
But drifted like a wreck.
Hush'd--hush'd was all on board that bark,
But flitting by--now here--now there--
Seem'd dim, uncertain, shadowy forms,
Through the misty moonlit air.
And now the floating wreck draws near,
Yet in the ship 'tis tranquil all;
That maiden stands on the deck alone
To gaze on the stars so small.
'Fair Gunhild;' faintly sighs a voice,
Thou seek'st thine own betrothed love--
But his home is not on the stranger's land,
No--nor on earth above.
''Tis deep beneath the dark, cold sea,
Oh! there 'tis sad to bide;
Yet he all lonely there must dwell,
Far from his destined bride!'
'Right well, right well thy voice I know,
Thou wand'rer from the deep wide sea;
No longer lonesome shalt thou dwell
Far, far away from me.'
'No, Gunhild, no--thou art so young,
So fair--thou must not come;
And I will grieve no more if thou
Art glad in thy dear home.
'The faith that thou to me didst swear,
To thee again I freely give;
I'm rocking on the billows' lap,
Seek happier ties and live.'
'The faith I vow'd I still will hold,
I swear it here anew--
Oh! say if in thy cold abode
There is not room for two?'
'Room in the sea might many find,
But all below is cheerless gloom;
When the sun's rays are beaming bright,
We sleep as in the tomb.
'Tis only at the midnight hour
When the pale moon shines out,
That we from ocean's depths may rise,
To drift on the wreck about.'
'Let the sun brightly beam above,
So I within thine arms repose!
Oh! I shall slumber softly there,
Forgetting earthly woes!
'Then hasten--hasten--reach thy hand!
And take thy bride with thee;
With thee, oh, gladly will she dwell,
Deep, deep beneath the sea!
'And we will oft at midnight's hour
Upon the lonely wreck arise,
And gaze upon the pale soft moon
And the stars in yonder skies.'
Then reach'd the dead his icy hand--
'Fair Gunhild! fear not thou--
The dawn of rosy morn is near,
We may not linger now!'
Upon the wreck the maiden springs,
It drifts away again;
The crew of her bark--awaking--see
The Death-ship on the main!
The startled men crowd on the deck
With horror on each brow;
They pray to God in heaven above--
And the wreck has vanish'd now!