Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
1354. On a Ferry Boat
 
By Richard Burton
 
 
THE RIVER widens to a pathless sea
  Beneath the rain and mist and sullen skies.
  Look out the window; ’t is a gray emprise,
This piloting of massed humanity
  On such a day, from shore to busy shore,        5
  And breeds the thought that beauty is no more.
 
But see yon woman in the cabin seat,
  The Southland in her face and foreign dress;
  She bends above a babe, with tenderness
That mothers use; her mouth grows soft and sweet.        10
  Then, lifting eyes, ye saints in heaven, what pain
  In that strange look of hers into the rain!
 
There lies a vivid band of scarlet red
  With careless grace across her raven hair;
  Her cheek burns brown; and ’t is her way to wear        15
A gown where colors stand in satin’s stead.
  Her eye gleams dark as any you may see
  Along the winding roads of Italy.
 
What dreamings must be hers of sunny climes,
  This beggar woman midst the draggled throng!        20
  How must she pine for solaces of song,
For warmth and love to furnish laughing-times!
  Her every glance upon the waters gray
  Is piteous with some lost yesterday.
 
I ’ve seen a dove, storm-beaten, far at sea;        25
  And once a flower growing stark alone
  From out a rock; I ’ve heard a hound make moan,
Left masterless: but never came to me
  Ere this such sense of creatures torn apart
  From all that fondles life and feeds the heart.        30
 

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