Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

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O busy ships! that smile in sailing
In a glory
Like a dream,
From the colors of the harbor to the colors of the sea.
In singing words or in bewailing,
Tell the story
As you gleam,
Tell the story, guess the language of my idle hours for me.

O busy waves! so blest in bruising
Your white faces
On the shore.
So happy to be wasted with the purpose of the sea,
Content to leave with it the choosing
Of your places
Whisper but the far sea-meaning of my stranded life for me.

Gray the sails grow in departing
Like fleet swallows
To the South.
Stern the tide turns in its parting,
As it follows
With dumb mouth.
In the stillness and the sternness God makes answer unto me.

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