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THE ship went on with solemn face:
To meet the darkness on the deep,
The solemn ship went onward.
I bowed down weary in the place;
[5] For parting tears and present sleep
Had weighed mine eyelids downward.


Thick sleep, which shut all dreams from me,
And kept my inner self apart,
And quiet from emotion,
[10] Then brake away and left me free,
Made conscious of a human heart
Betwixt the heaven and ocean.


The new sight, the new wondrous sight!
The waters round me, turbulent,
[15] The skies, impassive o’er me,
Calm in a moonless, sunless light,
As glorified by even the intent
Of holding the day-glory!


Two pale thin clouds did stand upon
[20] The meeting line of sea and sky,
With aspect still and mystic.
I think they did foresee the sun,
And rested on their prophecy
In quietude majestic;


[25] Then flushed to radiance where they stood,
Like statues by the open tomb
Of shining saints half risen.—
The sun!—he came up to be viewed;
And sky and sea made mighty room
[30] To inaugurate the vision!


I oft had seen the dawnlight run,
As red wine, through the hills, and break
Through many a mist’s inurning;
But, here, no earth profaned the sun!
[35] Heaven, ocean, did alone partake
The sacrament of morning.


Away with joys fantastical!
I would be humble to my worth,
Self-guarded if self-doubted.
[40] Though here no earthly shadows fall,
I, joying, grieving without earth,
May desecrate without it.


God’s sabbath morning sweeps the waves:
I would not praise the pageant high,
[45] And miss the dedicature:
I, drawn down toward the sunless graves
By force of natural things,—should I
Exult in only nature?


I could not bear to sit alone
[50] In nature’s fixed benignities,
While my warm pulse was moving.
Too dark thou art, O glittering sun,
Too strait ye are, capacious seas,
To satisfy the loving.


[55] It seems a better lot than so,
To sit with friends beneath the beech,
And call them dear and dearer;
Or follow children as they go
In pretty pairs, with softened speech
[60] As the church-bells ring nearer.


Love me, sweet friends, this sabbath day.
The sea sings round me while ye roll
Afar the hymn unaltered,
And kneel, where once I knelt, to pray,
[65] And bless me deeper in your soul,
Because your voice has faltered.


And though this sabbath comes to me
Without the stolèd minister,
And chanting congregation,
[70] God’s spirit shall give comfort. HE
Who brooded soft on waters drear,
Creator on creation.


He shall assist me to look higher,
Where keep the saints, with harp and song,
[75] An endless sabbath morning,
And, on that sea commixed with fire,
Oft drop their eyelids raised too long
To the full Godhead’s burning.

Text: Poems (1850), vol. 2, pp. 325-8.