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.
 
663. On the Verge
 
By William Winter
 
 
OUT in the dark it throbs and glows—
The wide, wild sea, that no man knows!
The wind is chill, the surge is white,
And I must sail that sea to-night.
 
You shall not sail! The breakers roar        5
On many a mile of iron shore,
The waves are livid in their wrath,
And no man knows the ocean path.
 
I must not bide for wind or wave;
I must not heed, though tempest rave;        10
My course is set, my hour is known,
And I must front the dark, alone.
 
Your eyes are wild, your face is pale,—
This is no night for ships to sail!
The hungry wind is moaning low,        15
The storm is up—you shall not go!
 
’T is not the moaning wind you hear—
It is a sound more dread and drear,
A voice that calls across the tide,
A voice that will not be denied.        20
 
Your words are faint, your brow is cold,
Your looks grow sudden gray and old,
The lights burn dim, the casements shake,—
Ah, stay a little, for my sake!
 
Too late! Too late! The vow you said        25
This many a year is cold and dead,
And through that darkness, grim and black,
I shall but follow on its track.
 
Remember all fair things and good
That e’er were dreamed or understood,        30
For they shall all the Past requite,
So you but shun the sea to-night!
 
No more of dreams! Nor let there be
One tender thought of them or me,—
For on the way that I must wend        35
I dread no harm and need no friend!
 
The golden shafts of sunset fall
Athwart the gray cathedral wall,
While o’er its tombs of old renown
The rose-leaves softly flutter down.        40
 
No thought of holy things can save
One relic now from Memory’s grave,
And, be it sun or moon or star,
The light that falls must follow far!
 
I mind the ruined turrets bold,        45
The ivy, flushed with sunset gold,
The dew-drenched roses, in their sleep,
That seemed to smile, and yet to weep.
 
There ’ll be nor smile nor tear again;
There ’ll be the end of every pain;        50
There ’ll be no parting to deplore,
Nor love nor sorrow any more.
 
I see the sacred river’s flow,
The barge in twilight drifting slow,
While o’er the daisied meadow swells        55
The music of the vesper bells.
 
It is my knell—so far away!
The night wears on—I must not stay!
My canvas strains before the gale—
My cables part, and I must sail!        60
 
Loud roars the sea! The dark has come:
He does not move—his lips are dumb.—
Ah, God receive, on shores of light,
The shattered ship that sails to-night!
 

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