Little Grey Dreams

- 1880-1958

Little grey dreams,
I sit at the ocean’s edge,
At the grey ocean’s edge, 
With you in my lap.

I launch you, one by one,
    And one by one,
      Little grey dreams,
Under the grey, grey, clouds,
Out on the grey, grey, sea, 
You go sailing away, 
From my empty lap,
      Little grey dreams.

Sailing! Sailing!
Into the black,
At the horizon’s edge.

To Joseph Lee

How strange, how passing strange, when we awake
        And lift our faces to the light
To know that you are lying shut away
        Within the night.

How strange, how passing strange, when we lie down
        To sleep, to know that you are quite
Alone beneath the moon, the stars, the little leaves,
        Within the night.

How strange, how passing strange to know—our eyes
        Will gladden at the fine sweet sight
Of you no more, for now your face is hid
        Within the night.

Strange, strange indeed, these things to us appear
        And yet we know they must be right;
And though your body sleeps, your soul has passed
        Beyond the night.

Ah! friend, it must be sweet to slip from out
        The tears, the pain, the losing fight
Below, and rest, just rest eternally
        Beyond the night.

And sweet it must be too, to know the kiss
        Of Peace, of Peace, the pure, the white
And step beside her hand in hand quite close
        Beyond the night.
 

To Keep the Memory of Charlotte Forten Grimké

Still are there wonders of the dark and day:
   The muted shrilling of shy things at night,
      So small beneath the stars and moon;
   The peace, dream-frail, but perfect while the light
      Lies softly on the leaves at noon.
         These are, and these will be
             Until eternity;
But she who loved them well has gone away.

Each dawn, while yet the east is veiléd grey,
   The birds about her window wake and sing;
      And far away, each day, some lark
   I know is singing where the grasses swing;
      Some robin calls and calls at dark.
         These are, and these will be
             Until eternity;
But she who loved them well has gone away.

The wild flowers that she loved down green ways stray;
   Her roses lift their wistful buds at dawn,
      But not for eyes that loved them best;
   Only her little pansies are all gone,
      Some lying softly on her breast.
         And flowers will bud and be
             Until eternity;
But she who loved them well has gone away.

Where has she gone? And who is there to say?
   But this we know: her gentle spirit moves
      And is where beauty never wanes,
   Perchance by other streams, mid other groves;
      And to us there, ah! she remains
         A lovely memory
             Until eternity;
She came, she loved, and then she went away.

The Want of You

A hint of gold where the moon will be; 
Through the flocking clouds just a star or two; 
Leaf sounds, soft and wet and hushed, 
And oh! the crying want of you. 

Related Poems

Eternity

Rock me to sleep, ye waves, and drift my boat, 
With undulations soft, far out to sea; 
Perchance, where sky and wave wear one blue coat, 
My heart shall find some hidden rest remote. 
My spirit swoons, and all my senses cry
For ocean's breast and covering of the sky.
Rock me to sleep, ye waves, and, outward bound,
Just let me drift far out toil and care,
Where lapping of the waves shall be the sound
Which, mingled with the winds that gently bear
Me on between a peaceful sea and sky,
To make my soothing, slumberous lullaby.
Thus drifting on and on upon thy breast,
My heart shall go to sleep and rest, and rest. 

Fog

Where does the sea end and the sky begin?
We sink in blue for which there is no word.
Two sails, fog-coloured, loiter on the thin
Mirage of ocean.
There is no sound of wind, nor wave, nor bird,
Nor any motion.
Except the shifting mists that turn and lift,
Showing behind the two limp sails a third,
Then blotting it again.

A gust, a spattering of rain,
The lazy water breaks in nervous rings.
Somewhere a bleak bell buoy sings,
Muffled at first, then clear,
Its wet, grey monotone.

The dead are here.
We are not quite alone.

Haunted Seas

A gleaming glassy ocean
  Under a sky of grey;
A tide that dreams of motion,
  Or moves, as the dead may;
A bird that dips and wavers
  Over lone waters round,
Then with a cry that quavers
  Is gone—a spectral sound.

The brown sad sea-weed drifting
  Far from the land, and lost;
The faint warm fog unlifting,
  The derelict long tossed,
But now at rest—though haunted
  By the death-scenting shark,
Whose prey no more undaunted
  Slips from it, spent and stark.