Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
665. Arthur
By William Winter

WHITE sail upon the ocean verge,
  Just crimsoned by the setting sun,
Thou hast thy port beyond the surge,
  Thy happy homeward course to run,
And wingëd hope, with heart of fire,        5
To gain the bliss of thy desire.
I watch thee till the sombre sky
  Has darkly veiled the lucent plain;
My thoughts, like homeless spirits, fly
  Behind thee o’er the glimmering main;        10
Thy prow will kiss a golden strand,
But they can never come to land.
And if they could, the fanes are black
  Where once I bent the reverent knee;
No shrine would send an answer back,        15
  No sacred altar blaze for me,
No holy bell, with silver toll,
Declare the ransom of my soul.
’T is equal darkness, here or there;
  For nothing that this world can give        20
Could now the ravaged past repair,
  Or win the precious dead to live!
Life’s crumbling ashes quench its flame,
And every place is now the same.

Thou idol of my constant heart,
  Thou child of perfect love and light,
That sudden from my side didst part,
  And vanish in the sea of night,
Through whatsoever tempests blow
My weary soul with thine would go.        30
Say, if thy spirit yet have speech,
  What port lies hid within the pall,
What shore death’s gloomy billows reach,
  Or if they reach no shore at all!
One word—one little word—to tell        35
That thou art safe and all is well!
The anchors of my earthly fate,
  As they were cast so must they cling;
And naught is now to do but wait
  The sweet release that time will bring,        40
When all these mortal moorings break,
For one last voyage I must make.
Say that across the shuddering dark—
  And whisper that the hour is near—
Thy hand will guide my shattered bark        45
  Till mercy’s radiant coasts appear,
Where I shall clasp thee to my breast,
And know once more the name of rest.


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