Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

Saturday Night In The Harbor

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The boats bound in across the bar,
Seen in fair colors from afar,
Grown to dun colors strong and near;
Their very shadows seem to fear
The shadows of a week of harms,
The memories of a week's alarms,
And quiver like a happy sigh
As ship and shadow, drifting by,
Glide o'er the harbor's peaceful face,
Each to its Sabbath resting-place.


And some like weary children come,
With sobbing sails, half sick for home;
And some, like lovers' thoughts, to meet
The veil├ęd shore, spring daring, sweet;
And some reluctant, in the shade,
The great reef dropt, like souls afraid,
Creep sadly in. Against the shore
Ship unto shadow turneth more
And more. Ships, ocean, shadow, shore!
Part not, nor stir forevermore!


My thoughts sail inward silently,
My week-day thoughts, O God, to thee!
Cold fears, evasive like a star,
And hopes whose gayest colors are
Akin to shades of fear. Wild dreams
Whose unimprisoned sweetness seems
To-night a presence like a blame,
A solid presence like a shame:
And faint temptations with held breath
Make room for cares as dark as death,
Give place to broken aims, that sail
Dismasted from some heart-spent gale.


And those come leaping lightly in,
And these crawl laggard, as a sin
Turned shoreward--Godward--ever must.
My soul sits humble in the dust,
Content to think that in His grace
Each care shall find its Sabbath place,
Content to know that, less or more
No sin can harbor near the shore.

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