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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 Alice Williams Brotherton (1848–1930)

[Born in Cambridge, Ind., 1848. Died in Mount Auburn, Ohio, 1930. From The Sailing of King Olaf, and Other Poems. 1887.]

“WHAT ship is this comes sailing

Across the harbor bar,

So strange yet half familiar,

With treasure from afar?

O comrades shout, good bells ring out,

Peal loud your merry din!

O joy! At last across the bay

My ship comes sailing in.”

Men said, in low whispers,

“It is the passing bell.

At last his toil is ended.”

They prayed, “God rest him well.”

“Ho Captain, my Captain,

What store have you on board?”

“A treasure far richer

Than gems or golden hoard.—

The broken promise welded firm,

The long forgotten kiss,

The love more worth than all on earth,

All joys life seemed to miss!”

The watchers sighed softly:

“It is the death-change!

What vision blest has given

That rapture deep and strange?”

“O Captain, dear Captain,

What are the forms I see

On deck there beside you?

They smile and beckon me;

And soft voices call me,

Those voices sure I know!”

“All friends are here that you held dear

In the sweet long ago.”

“The death-smile,” they murmured,

“It is so passing sweet,

We scarce have heart to hide it

Beneath the winding-sheet.”

“O Captain, I know you!

Are you not Christ the Lord?

With light heart and joyous

I hasten now on board.

Set sail, set sail, before the gale;

Our trip will soon be o’er;

To-night we’ll cast our anchor fast

Beside the heavenly shore!”

Men sighed: “Lay him gently

Beneath the heavy sod.”

The soul afar beyond the bar

Went sailing on to God.