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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 Sarah Chauncey Woolsey (Susan Coolidge) (1835–1905)

TO have touched heaven and failed to enter in!

Ah, Elsa, prone upon the lonely shore,

Watching the swan-wings beat along the blue,

Watching the glimmer of the silver mail

Like flash of foam, till all are lost to view;

What may thy sorrow or thy watch avail?

He cometh nevermore.

All gone the new hope of thy yesterday:

The tender gaze and strong like dewy fire,

The gracious form with airs of heaven bedight,

The love that warmed thy being like a sun;

Thou hadst thy choice of noonday or of night,

Now the swart shadows gather one by one

To give thee thy desire!

To every life one heavenly chance befalls;

To every soul a moment, big with fate,

When, grown importunate with need and fear,

It cries for help, and lo! from close at hand

The voice Celestial answers, “I am here!”

Oh, blessèd souls, made wise to understand,

Made bravely glad to wait.

But thou, pale watcher on the lonely shore

Where the surf thunders and the foam-bells fly,

Is there no place for penitence and pain?

No saving grace in thy all-piteous rue?

Will the bright vision never come again?

Alas, the swan-wings vanish in the blue.

There cometh no reply.

Scribner’s Magazine, 1887.