Less real it was than any
Ah me! to hear the bending willows shiver,
As we shot quickly from the silent river,
And felt the swaying and the flow
That bore us down the deeper, wider stream,
Whereto its nameless waters go:
O! I shall always, when I shut mine eyes,
See that weird sight again;
The lights from anchored vessels hung;
The phantom moon, that sprung
Suddenly up in dim and angry wise,
From the rim o’ the moaning main,
And touched with elfin light
The two long oars whereby we made our flight,
Along the reaches of the night;
Then furrowed up a lowering cloud,
Went in, and left us darker than before,
To feel our way as the midnight watches wore,
And lie in HER lee, with mournful faces bowed,
That should receive and bear with her away
The brightest portion of my sunniest day,—
The laughter of the land, the sweetness of the shore.
And I beheld thee: saw the lantern flash
Down on thy face, when thou didst climb the side.
And thou wert pale, pale as the patient bride
That followed; both a little sad,
Leaving of home and kin. Thy courage glad,
That once did bear thee on,
That brow of thine had lost; the fervor rash
Of unforeboding youth thou hadst foregone.
O, what a little moment, what a crumb
Of comfort for a heart to feed upon!
And that was all its sum;
A glimpse, and not a meeting,—
A drawing near by night,
To sigh to thee an unacknowledged greeting,
And all between the flashing of a light
And its retreating.
Then after, ere she spread her wafting wings,
The ship,—and weighed her anchor to depart,
We stole from her dark lee, like guilty things;
And there was silence in my heart,
And silence in the upper and the nether deep.
O sleep! O sleep!
Do not forget me. Sometimes come and sweep,
Now I have nothing left, thy healing hand
Over the lids that crave thy visits bland,
Thou kind, thou comforting one:
For I have seen his face, as I desired,
And all my story is done.
O, I am tired!
THE MIDDLE WATCH.
I woke in the night, and the darkness was heavy and
I had known it was dark in my sleep,
And I rose and looked out,
And the fathomless vault was all sparkling, set thick round about
With the ancient inhabiters silent, and wheeling too far
For man’s heart, like a voyaging frigate, to sail, where remote
In the sheen of their glory they float,