Littell's Living Age/Volume 126/Issue 1626/The Arctic Expedition


May 29th, 1875.

O let me smile a little, I pray,
Just a little, and while I may;
Even as a child smiles. After to-day,
I shall Have whole years to weep in.
let me talk like a child, unchid:
After to-day 'twill all be hid;
No hand will lift up the coffin-lid
Of the silence I shall sleep in.

In Portsmouth harbour the good ship rides,
Rocked safely upon the placid tides,
As love in a happy heart abides,
Moving with each emotion;
With voices and hands alive all o'er;
And to-morrow — (perhaps for evermore!) —
I shall look out from a desolate shore
Upon an empty ocean.

O love, my hero and my saint,
My knight of the white shield without taint.
This woman-heart turns sick and faint,
Although my lips may fail not:
I see the rocks under smiling seas,
I hear a tempest in every breeze,
I feel the icebergs as they freeze.
In the deeps where ship can sail not.

O love, my love, so brave, so young;
Strong arm, pure heart, and silent tongue;
O lonely years that stretch out so long!
One cry as of lost existence,
And my soul sits down before its doom.
As a white ghost sits at the door of a tomb:
No moan, no shriek, no tears, no gloom.
Only a still persistence.

Be of good cheer! Sail on, sail on.
Unto life, or death, for both are one
To the infinite faith in sweet days gone,
To the infinite love that folds thee:
These girlish arms are weak, I know.
But my heart is strong as a well-bent bow,
And whither thou goest I will go.
In my spirit that upholds thee.

Sail on, sail on, through the frozen seas,
To endless labour and little ease.
Come back triumphant, if Heaven so please,
Or with unwon goal, inglorious;
Only come back! — No. Should God say
That He has crowned thee another way.
Love! see beyond our night. His day!
And we are yet victorious.