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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


By William Winter (1836–1917)

[From Wanderers. 1889.]

WITH diamond dew the grass was wet,—

’Twas in the spring and gentlest weather,—

And all the birds of morning met,

And carolled in her heart together.

The wind blew softly o’er the land,

And softly kissed the joyous ocean:

He walked beside her on the sand,

And gave and won a heart’s devotion.

The thistledown was in the breeze,

With birds of passage homeward flying;

His fortune lured him o’er the seas,

And on the shore he left her, sighing.

She saw his barque glide down the bay,

Through tears and fears she could not banish;

She saw his white sails melt away—

She saw them fade, she saw them vanish.

And “Go,” she said, “for winds are fair,

And love and blessing round you hover;

When you sail backward through the air,

Then I will trust the word of lover.”

Still ebbed, still flowed, the tide of years,

Now chilled with snows, now bright with roses,

And many smiles were turned to tears,

And sombre morns to radiant closes.

And many ships came sailing by,

With many a golden promise freighted;

But nevermore from sea or sky

Came love, to bless her heart that waited.

Yet on, by tender patience led,

Her sacred footsteps walked, unbidden,

Wherever sorrow bowed its head,

Or want, and care, and shame were hidden.

And they who saw her snow-white hair,

And dark, sad eyes, so deep with feeling,

Breathed all at once the chancel air,

And seemed to hear the organ pealing.

Till once, at shut of autumn day,

In marble chill she paused and hearkened,

With startled gaze where far away

The wastes of sky and ocean darkened.

There for a moment, faint and wan,

High up in air, and landward striving,

Stern-fore a spectral barque came on,

Across the purple sunset driving.

Then something out of night she knew,

Some whisper heard, from heaven descended,

And peacefully, as falls the dew,

Her long and lonely vigil ended.

The violet and the bramble-rose

Make glad the grass that dreams above her;

And, freed from time and all its woes,

She trusts again the word of lover.