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OUR ship went on with solemn pace—
To meet the darkness on the deep,
The solemn ship went onward,
Against her side I bowed my face—
[5] The last day’s tears, the nightly sleep,
Did weigh mine eyelids downward.

O sweetest friends, asleep on shore,
Whatever dreams of wandering ships
Your parted love is making,
[10] I know the day-smile waits before
My youngest brother’s sleeping lips,
To make you smile awaking!

God keep that boyish smile as glad—
My pleasant sight for yesterday—
[15] My memory for to-morrow!
God make the loving’s dream unsad—
Since those who love, if dreaming, may
Love on, without the sorrow!

The light of prayer fell from my face—
[20] As soft as God’s reply, the sleep
Did quench it, floating downward.
Our ship went on with solemn pace—
To meet the darkness on the deep—
The solemn ship went onward.

[25] That sleep shut out all dream from me—
It kept my being all apart,
And clear from its emotion—
Then brake away and left me free
And conscious of my human heart
[30] Betwixt the heaven and ocean!

The new sight—the contrasted sight—
The waters round me turbulent—
The skies calm-fixèd o’er me—
Calm in a moonless, sunless light,
[35] As glorified by e’en the intent
Of holding the day-glory!

Three pale thin clouds did stand upon
The meeting line of sea and sky,
With aspect high and mystic—
[40] I think they did foresee the sun,
And rested on their prophecy
In quietude majestic—

Then flushed with radiance where they stood,—
As statues will upon the tomb,
[45] When saints have almost risen!—
The sun came upward to be viewed,
And sky and sea made mighty room
For splendours of the vision.

The new sight!—the new wondrous sight!—
[50] I oft had seen the daytime break,
From wave to hill returning—
But here, no earth profaned the light—
Heaven, ocean, did alone partake
The sacrament of morning.

[55] Those thoughts were high-fantastical!
I thought again—In such quaint mirth,
Why am I not self-doubted?
Though here no earthly shadow fall,
I, grieving, joying, without earth,
[60] May desecrate without it!

Am I (God’s SABBATH sweeps the waves!)
A praiser of the pageantry,
And not a dedicator?— 
I, drawn toward the sunless graves
[65] By force of natural things, can I
Exult in only Nature?

And could I bear to stand alone
Among her fixed benignities,
With pulses ever-moving?—
[70] Too dusky art thou, radiant sun,
Too straight ye are, capacious seas,
To satisfy the loving!

The thought of LOVE did make me low:—
And then I thought how ’neath the beech,
[75] The wayside pond doth mirror,
Small children, on that day, would go,
In pretty pairs—with whispered speech,
As the church-bells rang nearer!

And how upon that day—that day—
[80] Mine own belov’d would help to roll
The old sweet hymn unaltered—
Then kneel where I have knelt to pray,
And bless me deeper in their soul
Because their lips have faltered.

[85] And though my Sabbath silent came,
Without the stolèd minister,
Or chanting congregation—
The teaching Spirit was the same
Who brooded soft on waters drear,*
[90] Creator, on creation!

But, oh! high Spirit, lead me higher,
To see the blessed keep with song
Their endless Sabbath-morning,—
While on that sea commixed with fire†
[95] They drop their eyelids—raised too long
To the near Godhead’s burning!

* Genesis, i. 2. [EBB’s note]
† Revelations, xv. 2. [sic, EBB’s note]

Text: The Amaranth: A Miscellany of Original Prose and Verse (for 1839), ed T. K. Hervey (October 1838), pp. 73-5.