Paul Laurence Dunbar

(1872-1906 / Ohio / United States)

Ships that Pass in the Night


Out in the sky the great dark clouds are massing;
I look far out into the pregnant night,
Where I can hear the solemn booming gun
And catch the gleaming of a random light,
That tells me that the ship I seek
is passing, passing.
My tearful eyes my soul's deep hurt are glassing;
For I would hail and check that ship of ships.
I stretch my hands imploring, cry aloud,
My voice falls dead a foot from mine own lips,
And but its ghost doth reach that vessel, passing, passing.
O Earth, O Sky, O Ocean, both surpassing,
O heart of mine, O soul that dreads the dark!
Is there no hope for me? Is there no way
That I may sight and check that speeding bark
Which out of sight and sound is passing, passing?

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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Comments about this poem (Ships that Pass in the Night by Paul Laurence Dunbar )

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  • Sylva Portoian (1/30/2010 9:19:00 PM)

    Died very young, unfair, like John Keats.
    He could have produced more!
    We should feel lucky that we are living long. (Report) Reply

  • Sara S (9/29/2009 10:49:00 AM)

    lou guzman- if you want to know more about l. dunbar, read as many of his poems as you can! morning and ships that pass in the night are just one side of his poems! (Report) Reply

  • Lou Guzman (9/24/2006 2:30:00 PM)

    I love this poem! I've only read one other poem by L. Dunbar tittled 'Morning'. I could not control my impulse do more research on the author. There is a tragic desperate tone in this poem, the helplessness of not being able to influence in any way ones need and longing and having to experience the frustration as it slips away beyond ones reach. I want to know more about this man. (Report) Reply

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