By The Shore of The River.

From: The Bird and the Bell with Other Poems (1875)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: Osgood and Company 1875 Boston


THROUGH the gray willows the bleak winds are raving
Here on the shore with its driftwood and sands.
Over the river the lilies are waving,
Bathed in the sunshine of Orient lands.
Over the river, the wide, dark river,
Spring-time and summer are blooming forever.

Here all alone on the rocks I am sitting,
Sitting and waiting,— my comrades all gone,—
Shadows of mystery drearily flitting
Over the surf with its sorrowful moan,—
Over the river, the strange, cold river.
Ah, must I wait for the boatman forever?

Wife and children and friends were around me;
Labor and rest were as wings to my soul;
Honor and love were the laurels that crowned me;
Little I recked how the dark waters roll.
But the deep river, the gray misty river,
All that I lived for has taken forever.

Silently came a black boat o’er the billows;
Stealthily grated the keel on the sand;
Rustling footsteps were heard through the willows;
There the dark boatman stood waving his hand,
Whispering, “I come,—from the shadowy river;
She who is dearest must leave thee forever!”

Suns that were brightest and skies that were bluest
Darkened and paled in the message he bore.
Year after year went the fondest, the truest,
Following that beckoning hand to the shore.
Down to the river, the cold, grim river,
Over whose waters they vanished forever.

Yet not in visions of grief have I wandered;
Still have I toiled, though my ardors have flown.
Labor is manhood; and life is but squandered
Dreaming vague dreams of the future alone.
Yet from the tides of the mystical river
Voices of spirits are whispering ever.

Lonely and old, in the dusk I am waiting,
Till the dark boatman with soft muffled oar
Glides o’er the waves, and I hear the keel grating,—
See the dim beckoning hand on the shore,
Wafting me over the welcoming river
To gardens and homes that are shining forever!

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