On the Prow

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Strange, silent East! Across the solemn calm
        The slender ship outward and onward strives,
Bearing to odorous shores of date and palm
        The burden of a hundred little lives.

On a like course drift I toward the verge
        Beyond which lies what now I may not know;
Yet my heart whispers these gray wastes of surge
        Stretch whither it is good for me to go.

Youth, like the speeding sun, left far behind—
        Unanswered questions mutely sent before—
Oh, great, dim East, what welcome shall I find
        When thy wide arms unveil the distant shore?

The prow knows not the harbor that it nears,
        Nor I if thou shalt bring the seeker rest:—
Yet the strong hand the fragile ship that steers
        Will guide her to the haven that is best!

New York, 1896.

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.