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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Shipwreck

By Lord Byron (1788–1824)

From ‘Don Juan’

’TWAS twilight, and the sunless day went down

Over the waste of waters; like a veil

Which, if withdrawn, would but disclose the frown

Of one whose hate is masked but to assail;

Thus to their hopeless eyes the night was shown,

And grimly darkled o’er their faces pale,

And the dim desolate deep: twelve days had Fear

Been their familiar, and now Death was here.


There was no light in heaven but a few stars;

The boats put off, o’ercrowded with their crews:

She gave a heel, and then a lurch to port,

And going down head foremost—sunk, in short.

Then rose from sea to sky the wild farewell!

Then shrieked the timid and stood still the brave;

Then some leaped overboard with dreadful yell,

As eager to anticipate their grave;

And the sea yawned around her like a hell,

And down she sucked with her the whirling wave,

Like one who grapples with his enemy,

And tries to strangle him before he die.

At first one universal shriek there rushed,

Louder than the loud ocean, like a crash

Of echoing thunder: and then all was hushed,

Save the wild wind and the remorseless dash

Of billows; but at intervals there gushed,

Accompanied with a convulsive splash,

A solitary shriek—the bubbling cry

Of some strong swimmer in his agony.