Madge Morris Wagner Poems >>
My Ships Have Come From Sea

You are watching a ship, O, maiden fair,
With parted lips and wistful air,
The ship that out from the sheltered bay
With white sails spread moves slow away;
And I know, my girl, the thoughts that burn
In your heart are of ship's return.
Ah! I know so well how your pulses beat,
With the great sea sobbing at your feet;
And the yellow stars in southern skies
Are brighter not than your love-bright eyes.
I, too, have stood on the sea-wet sand
And tearful waved a farewell hand,
And watched with many a longing prayer.
My face, like yours, was young and fair,
And my eyes were bright as the diamond's glow;
They've lost their sparkle--long ago.
I stand along on the beach to-day,
Watching the ships that sail away;
But never a sail from over the sea
The flowing tide will bring to me,
   My ships have come from sea.

The first was builded with childish hand,
It floated away a castle grand--
A beautiful bubble with rainbow hues,
Lined with the crystal of morning dews;
To break at my feet by the sunny sea,
A beautiful bubble came back to me--
   Came back from my ship at sea.

I fashioned another in gladsome way
And sent it forth on a Summer day.
   I see it yet, a fairer craft,
Never at danger mocking laughed;
Its shrouds were the sheen of happy hours,
Its helm a wreath of orange flowrs;
And I freighted it down with love and truth,
The golden hopes of my sunny youth.
Had it lived the storm--but it could not be,
A stranded wreck on the surf-washed lea,
   My ship came home from sea.

And then a smiling fairy bark,
A fragile, precious-freighted ark,
Out on life's ocean drear and dark.
And I prayed to God as I never before,
To shield this back from the tempest's roar,
To spare me this--but it could not be,
A tiny coffin came back to me--
   Came back from my ship at sea.

With reckless hand I launched again,
A venture on the treacherous main,
Bound for ambition's dizzy court;
Sailed from a hopeless, loveless port;
With gloomy walls whose silence chilled,
With ghostly haunting memories filled,
With never a breath of the roses dead;
Never a rest for a weary head,
Never a dream of a sweet to be,
Hopeless, loveless still, to me,
   My ship came home from sea.

The last, and least, of all the ships
Fashioned with hands, and heart, and lips,
I pushed from shore with its decks untrod
And the freight it bore was my faith in God.
I recked not whither its way, nor when,
Nor how, if ever, 'twould come again,
And this, alone, came back to me,
Rich-laden from the stormy sea.
And so, sweet maiden, while your dreams
Paint fairest all that fairest seems,
I stand with you and watch to-day
The ship that sails form the shore away;
But never a sail from over the sea
The flowing tide will bring to me--
   My ships have come from sea.