All life lessons are not learned at college,’she thought. Life teaches them everywhere.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island
Lucy Maud Montgomery, Maud to her friends, writes from her life experiences. The daughter of Hugh John Montgomery and Clara Woolner Macneill Montgomery, she experienced loss at a very early age. Her mother, stricken by tuberculosis, died September 1876 at the age of twenty-three, when Maud was not yet two years old. Many years later, Maud would recall her mother’s wake and the coldness that she felt when she touched her mother’s cheek.
Maritime fishermen face the uncertain ocean every time they head out into open waters. Even today, there are many who are lost at sea. Lucy Maud Montgomery captures the feeling of anxious anticipation and loss in her poem, Before Storm.
By Lucy Maud Montgomery
There’s a grayness over the harbor like fear on the face of a woman,
The sob of the waves has a sound akin to a woman’s cry,
And the deeps beyond the bar are moaning with evil presage
Of a storm that will leap from its lair in that dour north-eastern sky.
Slowly the pale mists rise, like ghosts of the sea, in the offing,
Creeping all wan and chilly by headland and sunken reef,
And a wind is wailing and keening like a lost thing ‘mid the islands,
Boding of wreck and tempest, plaining of dolor and grief.
Swiftly the boats come homeward, over the grim bar crowding,
Like birds that flee to their shelter in hurry and affright,
Only the wild grey gulls that love the cloud and the clamor
Will dare to tempt the ways of the ravining sea to-night.
But the ship that sailed at the dawning, manned by the lads who love us
God help and pity her when the storm is loosed on her track!
O women, we pray to-night and keep a vigil of sorrow
For those we speed at the dawning and may never welcome back!