The wild sea moaned, the black clouds
Moving shadows on its bed,
But one of us lay midship dead.
I saw his coffin sliding down
The yellow sand in yonder town,
Where I put on my sorrow’s crown.
And we returned; in this drear place
Never to see him face to face,
I thrust aside the living race.
Mothers, who mourn with me to-day,
Oh, understand me, when I say,
I cannot weep, I cannot pray;
I gaze upon a hidden store,
His books, his toys, the clothes he wore,
And cry, “Once more, to me, once more!”
Then take, from me, this simple verse,
That you may know what I rehearse—
A grief—your and my Universe!
Now like the Lady of Shalott,
I dwell within an empty room,
And through the day and through the night
I sit before an ancient loom.
And like the Lady of Shalott
I look into a mirror wide,
Where shadows come, and shadows go,
And ply my shuttle as they glide.
Not as she wove the yellow wool,
Ulysses’ wife, Penelope;
By day a queen among her maids,
But in the night a woman, she,
Who, creeping from her lonely couch,
Unraveled all the slender wool;
Or, with a torch, she climbed the towers,
To fire the fagots on the roof!
But weaving with a steady hand
The shadows, whether false or true,
I put aside a doubt which asks
“Among these phantoms what are you?”
For not with altar, tomb, or urn,
Or long-haired Greek with hollow shield,
Or dark-prowed ship with banks of oars,
Or banquet in the tented field;
Or Norman knight in armor clad,
Waiting a foe where four roads meet;
Or hawk and hound in bosky dell,
Where dame and page in secret greet;
Or rose and lily, bud and flower,
My web is broidered. Nothing bright
Is woven here: the shadows grow
Still darker in the mirror’s light!
And as my web grows darker too,
Accursed seems this empty room;
For still I must forever weave
These phantoms by this ancient loom.
“THE SHADOWS ON THE WATER REACH.”
The shadows on the water reach
My shadow on the beach;
I see the dark trees on the shore,
The fisher’s oar.
I met her by the sea last night,
A little maid in white;
I shall never meet her more
On the shore.
Ho! fisher, hoist your idle sail,
And whistle for a gale;
My ship is waiting in the bay,
I feel the breath of the summer night,
The trees, the vines, the flowers are astir
With tender desire.