12 - In the Turret
In the Turret.
Your honest heart of duty, Worden,
So helped you that in fame you dwell;
You bore the first iron battle's burden
Sealed as in a diving-bellSee "In a Church in Padua" for Melville's image of the confessional booth as "Dread diving-bell!" (William B. Shurr, The Mystery of Iniquity, 35)..
Alcides, groping into haunted hell
To bring forth King Admetus' bride,
Braved naught more vaguely direful and untried.
What poet shall uplift his charm,
Bold Sailor, to your height of daring,
And interblend therewith the calm,
And build a goodly style upon your bearing.
Escaped the gale of outer ocean—
CribbedCf. Macbeth's "But now I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confined, bound in / To saucy doubts and fears" (Act III, scene iv; See William B. Shurr, Mystery of Iniquity, 36). in a craft which like a log
Was washed by every billow's motion—
By night you heard of Og
The huge; nor felt your courage clog
At tokens of his onset grim:
You marked the sunk ship's flag-staff slim,
Lit by her burning sister's heart;
You marked, and mused: “Day brings the trial:
Then be it proved if I have part
With men whose manhood never took denial.”
A prayer went up—a champion's. Morning
Beheld you in the Turret walled
By adamant, where a spirit forewarning
And all-deriding called:
“Man, darest thou—desperate, unappalled—
Be first to lock thee in the armored tower?
I have thee now; and what the battle-hour
To me shall bring—heed well—thou'lt share;
This plot-work, planned to be the foeman's tenor,
To thee may prove a goblin-snare;
Its very strength and cunning—monstrous error!”
“Stand up, my heart; be strong; what matter
If here thou seest thy welded tomb?
And let huge Og with thunders batter—
Duty be still my doom,
Though drowning come in liquid gloom;
First duty, duty next, and duty last;
Ay, Turret, rivet me here to duty fast!”—
So nerved, you fought, wisely and well;
And live, twice live in life and story;
But over your Monitor dirges swell,
In wind and wave that keep the rites of glory.