A CHILD, I played beside the sea
Across the far horizon line
Ships came and went, the whole day long,
And went and came, — but none were mine.
A girl, I sat upon the shore
And dreamed sweet dreams of what might be,
When, out of tropic latitudes,
My laden ship should come to me.
A woman, still unsatisfied,
I climbed the cliffs and gazed afar
; My wishes freighted every ship
That sailed across the harbor bar.
Near by, upon the rugged rocks,
A bright-faced workman toiled and sang,
And loudly,over wave and beach,
The strokes of ax and hammer rang.
I watched him, as he hewed and joined,—
As slowly, day by day, he wrought
The strong proportions of a ship
(Such as had lived within my thought).
At length I sought his side, and asked,
“ Why toil from dawn to set of day?
Come watch with me; ere many hours,
Your ship may anchor in the bay. ”
The workman smiled: “My ship, you say?
My ships are sailing south and north.
My ships are those I build and launch;
Year after year, I send them forth,
“ Laden with comfort and content,
To wishful hearts beside the sea.
I know not if, across the brine,
A ship sails now, to gladden me;
“ But this I know, that when my hands
Are weary, and my hair is gray,
When I sit idle on the strand,
The ships that I have sent away
“ Shall crowd with sails the empty east,
Where mistily they passed before,
Shall bring me back, from over seas,
More treasure than I gave, of yore.”
H. K. Hudson.