Mrs. S. A. Collins



The Wreck of the Elbe

by Mrs. S. A. Collins

This wreck, the account of which is given below, occurred on Jan. 30th, 1895, in theNorth Sea.

When we see the great round sun

Rising slowly in the sky,

Sending forth its glinting arrows

      To the zenith up so high,

What tender thoughts awake within us

Causing us to bide our time,

Wandering if this same bright sunshine

      Looks as grand in every clime.

It may be that on the morning

When the Elbe sailed away,

Her precious cargo, too were gazing:

      At the sun at peep of day,

When she left her port, all confident

Of a gay and happy voyage.

All her crew were trained to duty,

      Neither lacked they manly courage.

But the day that dawns so brightly,

Sometimes closes with a storm,

Bringing on a night of blackness,

      Tho' the morning woke so calm.

The Elbe was an ocean steamer

Traversing the ocean blue.

Many times her deck was crowded

      With her passengers and crew.

And as many times she landed

Safe her cargo at port.

But alas! This fateful morning

      None foretold, nor even thought

Of the terrible awakening

Which for some there was in store.

While others went to rest at night

      To awaken on the Other Shore.

This morning was so cold and dark,

The ocean seemed a weary waste:

The day it was so slow in dawning,

      Not a sun's ray in the East.

All at once a light appeared,

And as quickly came the knell,

Ringing from an unknown world,

      To what destiny none can tell.

Another boat had left her course,

Little dreaming of the ill

It might bring to other Seamen,

      Who were working with a will.

On she came like some sea monster:

Death seemed following in her wake.

All unwarned those people slumbered,

      Little dreaming of their fate."

She came not like some artillery;

Neither was there a signal gun;

But so silent mid the billows,

      No one heard her when she came.

But she seemed like some dread serpent,

Just a sting, then on she sped,

Leaving in those heaving waters,

      Hundreds numbered with the dead.

Scarcely felt, so light she touched it,

Yet it burst her noble side.

And the water, none could check it,

      Bore them down beneath the tide.

When the captain saw the ship was sinking,

He straight-way gave his orders true,

"Try and save the wives and children;

      Lower the boats and, quickly too!"

The first one loaded all too heavy,

For the wild and wintry gale;

Swelled the tide, they could not brave it,

      Sturdy hands proved no avail.

And when just saved from the sinking Elbe ,

Amidst hope and terror too,

Another gush, the ocean swallowed,

      Down had gone that little crew.

The second boat was launched so quickly,

But disappeared with all on board.

"It surely never made the harbor,

      For from it we never heard.

Another boat with nineteen souls

Left the ship; their fate unknown;

Brave they must the ocean's torrents,

      "Winter's blast, and hunger's moan.

Oh! the terror in the blackness

Of the winter's cold that morn.

Human souls were at the mercy

      Of the waves, all refuge gone.

And when out a little way

Another soul they found,

Clinging to a drifting life-boat,

      A young lady nearly drowned.

Even in the midst of peril,

Half distracted in their fright,

Still a wish to save poor mortals

      Was plainly manifest at sight.

They took her in, then on they sped,

Adrift upon the sea;

No chance, no hope unless observed

      By others; will it be?

In vain they try to find a way

Where rescue may be had;

They shout and wave their hands in vain,

      Though many ships are spied.

At last the Wildflower fishing smack

Seemed sent in time of need.

She spied their signal, came to them,

      A welcome friend indeed.

And while they were drifting helpless,

Praying wildly to be saved,

Those on board the sinking Elbe

      Went down to their ocean grave.

Death is sad when friends are standing

All around the sufferer's bed,

Trying hard to ease the pain,

      Cooling oft the fevered head;

But alas! 'Tis harder still,

When no sympathy is near,

None to press the hand at parting,

      None to wipe away the tear.

Oh! how many friends were waiting

The arrival of that crew,

Then to welcome home the deal' ones.

      Who had crossed the ocean blue.

Now they watch with eyes o'er brimming,

Knowing well it cannot be,

For those friends today are sleeping,

      Down, deep in that heaving sea.

Hail! all hail! to that brave captain

As he cried, "Now man the boats,

Place the wives and children in them:

      Leave the ship; go quick, afloat."

But human hands, alas, were helpless:

None could save the people there,

For the time was moments only,

      Scarely time to form a prayer.

Another page in history blackened,

With the fate of human-kind:

But such happening-s seem too awful

      For the annals of the mind.