Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. III. Sorrow and Consolation
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume III. Sorrow and Consolation.  1904.
 
V. Death and Bereavement
Jim’s Kids
Eugene Field (1850–1895)
 
JIM was a fisherman, up on the hill,
  Over the beach lived he and his wife,
In a little house—you can see it still—
  An’ their two fair boys; upon my life
You never seen two likelier kids,        5
  In spite of their antics an’ tricks an’ noise,
  Than them two boys!
 
Jim would go out in his boat on the sea,
  Just as the rest of us fishermen did,
An’ when he come back at night thar’d be,        10
  Up to his knees in the surf, each kid,
A beck’nin’ and cheerin’ to fisherman Jim;
  He ’d hear ’em, you bet, above the roar
  Of the waves on the shore.
 
But one night Jim came a sailin’ home        15
  And the little kids weren’t on the sands;
Jim kinder wondered they hadn’t come,
  And a tremblin’ took hold o’ his knees and hands,
And he learnt the worst up on the hill,
  In the little house, an’ he bowed his head,        20
  “The fever,” they said.
 
’T was an awful time for fisherman Jim,
  With them darlin’s a dyin’ afore his eyes,
They kep’ a callin’ an’ beck’nin’ him,
  For they kinder wandered in mind. Their cries        25
Were about the waves and fisherman Jim
  And the little boat a sailin’ for shore
  Till they spoke no more.
 
Well, fisherman Jim lived on and on,
  And his hair grew white and the wrinkles came,        30
But he never smiled and his heart seemed gone,
  And he never was heard to speak the name
Of the little kids who were buried there,
  Upon the hill in sight o’ the sea,
  Under a willow tree.        35
 
One night they came and told me to haste
  To the house on the hill, for Jim was sick,
And they said I hadn’t no time to waste,
  For his tide was ebbin’ powerful quick
An’ he seemed to be wand’rin’ and crazy like,        40
  An’ a seein’ sights he oughtn’t to see,
  An’ had called for me.
 
And fisherman Jim sez he to me,
  “It ’s my last, last cruise, you understand,
I ’m sailin’ a dark and dreadful sea,        45
  But off on the further shore, on the sand,
Are the kids, who ’s a beck’nin’ and callin’ my name
  Jess as they did, oh, mate, you know,
  In the long ago.”
 
No, sir! he wasn’t afeard to die,        50
  For all that night he seemed to see
His little boys of the years gone by,
  And to hear sweet voices forgot by me;
An’ just as the mornin’ sun came up,
  “They ’re a holdin’ me by the hands,” he cried,        55
  And so he died.
 
 
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