Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
The Ballad of the Boat
 
Richard Garnett (1835–1906)
 
 
THE STREAM was smooth as glass, we said: “Arise and let’s away;”
The Siren sang beside the boat that in the rushes lay;
And spread the sail, and strong the oar, we gaily took our way.
When shall the sandy bar be cross’d? When shall we find the bay?
 
The broadening flood swells slowly out o’er cattle-dotted plains,        5
The stream is strong and turbulent, and dark with heavy rains,
The laborer looks up to see our shallop speed away.
When shall the sandy bar be cross’d? When shall we find the bay?
 
Now are the clouds like fiery shrouds; the sun, superbly large,
Slow as an oak to woodman’s stroke sinks flaming at their marge.        10
The waves are bright with mirror’d light as jacinths on our way.
When shall the sandy bar be cross’d? When shall we find the bay?
 
The moon is high up in the sky, and now no more we see
The spreading river’s either bank, and surging distantly
There booms a sullen thunder as of breakers far away.        15
Now shall the sandy bar be cross’d, now shall we find the bay!
 
The seagull shrieks high overhead, and dimly to our sight
The moonlit crests of foaming waves gleam towering through the night.
We ’ll steal upon the mermaid soon, and start her from her lay,
When once the sandy bar is cross’d, and we are in the bay.        20
 
What rises white and awful as a shroud enfolded ghost?
What roar of rampant tumult bursts in clangor on the coast?
Pull back! pull back! The raging flood sweeps every oar away.
O stream, is this thy bar of sand? O boat, is this the bay?
 

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