Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
The Pilot’s Daughter
By William Allingham (1824–1889)
 
O’ER western tides the fair Spring Day
  Was smiling back as it withdrew,
And all the harbor, glittering gay,
  Returned a blithe adieu;
Great clouds above the hills and sea        5
Kept brilliant watch, and air was free
Where last lark firstborn star shall greet,—
When, for the crowning vernal sweet,
Among the slopes and crags I meet
    The pilot’s pretty daughter.        10
 
Round her gentle, happy face,
  Dimpled soft, and freshly fair,
Danced with careless ocean grace
  Locks of auburn hair:
As lightly blew the veering wind,        15
They touched her cheeks, or waved behind,
Unbound, unbraided, and unlooped;
Or when to tie her shoe she stooped,
Below her chin the half-curls drooped,
    And veiled the pilot’s daughter.        20
 
Rising, she tossed them gayly back,
  With gesture infantine and brief,
To fall around as soft a neck
  As the wild-rose’s leaf.
Her Sunday frock of lilac shade        25
(That choicest tint) was neatly made,
And not too long to hide from view
The stout but noway clumsy shoe,
And stockings’ smoothly-fitting blue,
    That graced the pilot’s daughter.        30
 
With look half timid and half droll,
  And then with slightly downcast eyes,
And blush that outward softly stole,
  Unless it were the skies
Whose sun-ray shifted on her cheek,        35
She turned when I began to speak;
But ’twas a brightness all her own
That in her firm light step was shown,
And the clear cadence of her tone;
    The pilot’s lovely daughter.        40
 
Were it my lot (the sudden wish)
  To hand a pilot’s oar and sail,
Or haul the dripping moonlight mesh,
  Spangled with herring-scale;
By dying stars, how sweet ’twould be,        45
And dawn-blow freshening the sea,
With weary, cheery pull to shore,
To gain my cottage home once more,
And clasp, before I reach the door,
    My love, the pilot’s daughter.        50
 
This element beside my feet
  Allures, a tepid wine of gold;
One touch, one taste, dispels the cheat
  ’Tis salt and nipping cold:
A fisher’s hut, the scene perforce        55
Of narrow thoughts and manners coarse,
Coarse as the curtains that beseem
With net-festoons the smoky beam,
Would never lodge my favorite dream,
    E’en with my pilot’s daughter.        60
 
To the large riches of the earth,
  Endowing men in their own spite,
The poor, by privilege of birth,
Stand in the closest right.
Yet not alone the palm grows dull        65
With clayey delve and watery pull:
And this for me,—or hourly pain.
But could I sink and call it gain?
Unless a pilot true, ’twere vain
    To wed a pilot’s daughter.        70
 
Like her, perhaps?—but ah! I said,
Much wiser leave such thoughts alone.
So may thy beauty, simple maid,
Be mine, yet all thine own.
Joined in my free contented love        75
With companies of stars above;
Who, from their throne of airy steep,
Do kiss these ripples as they creep
Across the boundless, darkening deep.—
Low voiceful wave! hush soon to sleep        80
    The gentle pilot’s daughter.
 
 
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