by Robert Browning (1812 - 1889)

By the fireside
Language: English 
Is all our fire of shipwreck wood,
        Oak and pine?
Oh, for the ills half-understood,
        The dim dead woe
        Long ago
Befallen this bitter coast of France!
Well, poor sailors took their chance;
        I take mine.

A ruddy shaft our fire must shoot
        O’er the sea
Do sailors eye the casement-mute,
        Drenched and stark,
        From their bark—
And envy, gnash their teeth for hate
O’ the warm safe house and happy freight
        —Thee and me?

God help you, sailors, at your need!
        Spare the curse!
For some ships, safe in port indeed,
        Rot and rust,
        Run to dust,
All through worms i’ the wood, that crept,
Gnawed our hearts out while we slept:
        That is worse.


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Researcher for this text: Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2020-06-03
Line count: 24
Word count: 116