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On a Friend's Escape from Drowning off the Norfolk Coast

by George Barker

Came up that cold sea at Cromer like a running grave
  Beside him as he struck
Wildly towards the shore, but the blackcapped wave
  Crossed him and swung him back,
And he saw his son digging in the castled dirt that could save.
  Then the farewell rock
Rose a last time to his eyes. As he cried out
  A pawing gag of the sea
Smothered his cry and he sank in his own shout
  Like a dying airman. Then she
Deep near her son asleep on the hourglass sand
  Was awakened by whom
Save the Fate who knew that this was the wrong time:
  And opened her eyes
On the death of her son's begetter. Up she flies
  Into the hydra-headed
Grave as he closes his life upon her who for
  Life has so richly bedded him.
But she drove through his drowning like Orpheus and tore
  Back by his hair
Her escaping bridegroom. And on the sand their son
  Stood laughing where
He was almost an orphan. Then the three lay down
  On that cold sand
Each holding the other by a living hand.

Norfolk Poems




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