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'A Passer By' - Rhapsody for Orchestra

This orchestral rhapsody was written in 1910 by the composer Cyril Bradley Rootham (CBR); the work was inspired by the poem "A Passer By" by Robert Bridges.

"A Passer By"
by Robert Bridges

  Whither, O splendid ship, thy white sails crowding,
        Leaning across the bosom of the urgent West,
  That fearest nor sea rising, nor sky clouding,
        Whither away, fair rover, and what thy quest?
        Ah! soon, when Winter has all our vales opprest,
  When skies are cold and misty, and hail is hurling,
        Wilt thou glide on the blue Pacific, or rest
  In a summer haven asleep, thy white sails furling.

  I there before thee, in the country that well thou knowest,
        Already arrived am inhaling the odorous air:
  I watch thee enter unerringly where thou goest,
        And anchor queen of the strange shipping there,
        Thy sails for awnings spread, thy masts bare:
  Nor is aught from the foaming reef to the snow-capp'd grandest
        Peak, that is over the feathery palms, more fair
  Than thou, so upright, so stately and still thou standest.

  And yet, O splendid ship, unhail'd and nameless,
        I know not if, aiming a fancy, I rightly divine
  That thou hast a purpose joyful, a courage blameless,
        Thy port assured in a happier land than mine.
        But for all I have given thee, beauty enough is thine,
  As thou, aslant with trim tackle and shrouding,
        From the proud nostril curve of a prow's line
  In the offing scatterest foam, thy white sails crowding.

The life of Robert Bridges

Robert Bridges found literary fame late in his life, holding the post of Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1913 to 1930. His biography on Wikipedia provides background.

The poet Robert Bridges

Robert Bridges (1844-1930)
by Unknown - photograph, Public Domain, Link