The Blind Sailor

Original Text: 
That Far River: Selected Poems of Theodore Goodridge Roberts, Martin Ware (London, Ontario: Canadian Poetry Press, 1998): 48-49..
1."Strike me blind!." we swore.
2    God! And I was stricken!
3    I have seen the morning fade
4    And noonday thicken.
5Be merciful, O God, that I have named in vain.
6I am blind in the eyes; but spare the gleam in my brain.
7Though my footsteps falter, let my soul still sight
8The things that were my life before you hid the light.
9Little things were they, Lord, too small to be denied:
10The green of roadstead waters where the tired ships ride,
12Safe inside the spouting reef and the sobbing bar.
13Leave to me my pictures, Lord, leave my memories bright:
14The twisted palms are clashing, and the sand is white.
17The negro girls are singing in the fields of cane,
18The lizards dart on that white path I'll not walk again,
19The opal blinds melt up at dawn, the crimson blinds flare down,
20And white against the mountains flash the street-lamps of the town.
21Leave to me my pictures, Lord, spare my mind to see
22The shimmer of the water and shadow of the tree,
23The cables roaring down, the gray sails swiftly furled,
24A riding-light ablink in some far corner of the world.
25Leave to me my pictures, Lord: the islands and the main,
26The little things a sailorman must out to see again;
27The beggars in the market-place, the oxen in the streets,
28The bitter, black tobacco and the women selling sweets.
29I have fed my vision, Lord; now I pray to hold
30The blue and gray and silver, the green and brown and gold.
31I have filled my heart, Lord; now I pray to keep
32The laughter and the colour through this unlifting sleep.
33    ."Strike me blind!." we swore.
34    God! And I am blind!
35    But leave me still, O Lord,
36    The pictures in the mind!


11] barkentine: small ship. Back to Line
15] gig: light two-wheeled one-horse carriage (OED). Back to Line
16] baffles: impedes the forward motion of a ship. Back to Line
Publication Notes: 
Canadian Magazine 38 (1911-12): 421.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: