Alice Cary

(1820-1871 / USA)

Death's Ferryman


Boatman, thrice I've called thee o er,
Waiting on life's solemn shore,
Tracing, in the silver sand,
Letters, till thy boat should land.

Drifting out alone, with thee,
Toward the clime I cannot see,
Read to me the strange device
Graven on thy wand of ice,

Push the curls of golden hue
From thine eyes of starlit dew,
And behold me where I stand,
Beckoning thy boat to land.

Where the river mist, so pale,
Trembles like a bridal veil,
O'er yon lowly drooping tree,
One that loves me waits for me.

Hear, still boatman, hear my call!
Last year, with the leaflet's fall,
Resting her pale hand in mine,
Crossed she in that boat of thine.

When the corn shall cease to grow,
And the rye-field's sea-like flow
At the reaper's feet is laid,
(Crossing, spoke the gentle maid),

Dearest love, another year
Thou shalt meet this boatmen here -
The white fingers of despair
Playing with his shining hair.

From this silver-sanded shore,
Beckon him to row thee o'er;
Where yon solemn shadows be,
I shall wait thee - come and see!

- There! the white sails float and flow,
One in heaven and one below;
And I hear a low voice cry,
Ferryman of Death am I.

Submitted: Friday, April 11, 2014

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