Sometimes I fly at dawn above the sea,
Where, underneath, the restless waters flow —
Silver, and cold, and slow,
Dim in the east there burns a new-born sun,
Whose rosy gleams along the ripples run,
Save where the mist droops low,
Hiding the level loneliness from me.
And now appears beneath the milk-white haze
A little fleet of anchored ships, which lie
In clustered company,
And seem as they are yet fast bound by sleep,
Although the day has long begun to peep,
With red-inflamèd eye,
Along the still, deserted ocean ways.
The fresh, cold wind of dawn blows on my face
As in the sun’s raw heart I swiftly fly,
And watch the seas glide by.
Scarce human seem I, moving through the skies
And far removed from warlike enterprise —
Like some great gull on high
Whose white and gleaming wings beat on through space.
Then do I feel with God quite, quite alone,
High in the virgin morn, so white and still,
And free from human ill:
My prayers transcend my feeble earth-bound plaints —
As though I sang among the happy Saints
With many a holy thrill —
As though the glowing sun were God’s bright Throne.
My flight is done. I cross the line of foam
That break around a town of grey and red,
Whose streets and squares lie dead
Beneath the silent dawn — then am I proud
That England’s peace to guard I am allowed;
Then bow my humble head,
In thanks to Him Who brings me safely home.