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The Fisher's Wife - Poem by Marietta Holley

A long, low waste of yellow sand
Lay shining northward far as eye could reach,
Southward a rocky bluff rose high
Broken in wild, fantastic shapes.
Near by, one jagged rock towered high,
And o'er the waters leaned, like giant grim,
Striving to peer into the mysteries
The ocean whispers of continually,
And covers with her soft, treacherous face.
For the rest, the sun was sinking low
Like a great golden globe, into the sea;
Above the rock a bird was flying
In dizzy circles, with shrill cries,
And on a plank floated from some wreck,
With shreds of musty seaweed
Clinging to it yet, a woman sat
Holding a child within her arms;
A sweet-faced woman--looking out to sea
With dark, patient eyes, and singing to the child,
And this the song she in the sunset sang:

Thine eyes are brown, my beauty, brown and bright,
Drowned deep in languor now, the angel Sleep
Is clasping thee within her arms so white,
Bearing thee up the dreamland's sunny steep.
Oh, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.

Thy father's boat, I see its swaying shroud
Like a white sea-gull, swinging to and fro
Against the ledges of a crimson cloud,
A tiny bird with flutt'ring wing of snow.
Oh, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.

Thy father toils beyond the harbor bar,
And, singing at his toil, he thinks of thee;
Lit by the red lamp of the evening star
Home will he come, will come to thee and me,
Oh, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.

His cabin shall be bright with flowers sweet,
The table shall be set, the fire shall glow,
We'll wait within the door, his coming steps to greet,
And if my eye be sad, he will not know--
Oh, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.

He will not pause to ponder things so slight,
He is not one a smile to prize or miss;
Yet he would shield us with a strong arm's might,
And he will meet us with a loving kiss--
Oh, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.

But would I could forget those other days
When if with gayer gleam mine eyes had shone,
Or shade of sorrow, gentlest eyes would gaze
With tender questioning into my own.
Oh, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.

Thine eyes are brown--thou hast thy father's eyes,
But those, my darling, those were clear and blue,
Ah, me! how sorrowfully that sea-bird cries,
Cries for its mate, oh, tender bird and true;
My, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.

Oh, of my truest love well worthy he,
And near was I, ah, nearest to his heart;
But ships are parted on the dreary sea
Swept by the waves, forever swept apart--
Oh, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.

And sometimes sad-eyed women sighing say,
Sweet love is lost, all that remains is rest,
So in their weakness they are lured to lay
Their head upon some strong and loving breast.
Oh, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.

Our cabin stands upon the dreary sands,
And it is sad to be alone, alone.
But on my bosom thou hast lain thy hands,
Near to me art thou, near, my precious one--
My, baby, sleep, my baby, sleep.

The red light faded as she sung,
A chill breeze rose and swept across the sea,
She drew her cloak still closer round the child,
And turned toward the cabin;
As she went a faint glow glimmered
In the east, and slowly rose--
The silver crescent of the moon.
Another, paler light, than the warm sunset glow,
But clear enough to guide her home.


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