Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1861–1889
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889
 
Passing
By Alice Williams Brotherton (1848–1930)
 
[Born in Cambridge, Ind., 1848. Died in Mount Auburn, Ohio, 1930. From The Sailing of King Olaf, and Other Poems. 1887.]

“WHAT ship is this comes sailing
  Across the harbor bar,
So strange yet half familiar,
  With treasure from afar?
O comrades shout, good bells ring out,        5
  Peal loud your merry din!
O joy! At last across the bay
  My ship comes sailing in.”
    Men said, in low whispers,
      “It is the passing bell.        10
    At last his toil is ended.”
      They prayed, “God rest him well.”
 
“Ho Captain, my Captain,
  What store have you on board?”
“A treasure far richer        15
  Than gems or golden hoard.—
The broken promise welded firm,
  The long forgotten kiss,
The love more worth than all on earth,
  All joys life seemed to miss!”        20
    The watchers sighed softly:
      “It is the death-change!
    What vision blest has given
      That rapture deep and strange?”
 
“O Captain, dear Captain,        25
  What are the forms I see
On deck there beside you?
  They smile and beckon me;
And soft voices call me,
  Those voices sure I know!”        30
“All friends are here that you held dear
  In the sweet long ago.”
    “The death-smile,” they murmured,
      “It is so passing sweet,
    We scarce have heart to hide it        35
      Beneath the winding-sheet.”
 
“O Captain, I know you!
  Are you not Christ the Lord?
With light heart and joyous
  I hasten now on board.        40
Set sail, set sail, before the gale;
  Our trip will soon be o’er;
To-night we’ll cast our anchor fast
  Beside the heavenly shore!”
    Men sighed: “Lay him gently        45
      Beneath the heavy sod.”
    The soul afar beyond the bar
      Went sailing on to God.
 
 
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