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The Fisher's Wife

by Susan Rhyce Beckwith

Lonely, desponding—the gathering gloom
Slowly filling the quiet room—
Sits the fisher's wife, with disheveled hair;—
What does she see in the darkness there?

Outside, the breakers, with sullen dash
Fling high their spray to the window-sash,
That, by the fitful gleams of the moonlight thrown,
Seems like prison-bars on her floor of stone.

On this same night, ten years before,
While the angry sea lashed the rock-bound shore,
She, anxiously watching, trimmed her light;—
And the waves were cold, and the moon was bright.

"Set the light, my lass, by the cottage door,"
Said the fisher that morn as he sought the shore;
"The moon will be up when I come to-night;
Her wake once crossed, I shall be all right."

With earnest eye, since the waning day,
She had followed the moon in her upward way,
And her quivering wake on the midnight sea,
If there the looked-for boat might be.

'Mong the rocks, where shadows so darksomely hide,
Where the sea-foam that wreathed them was gone with the tide
With tight'ning hands o'er the sickening heart,
With blanching cheek, and lips apart—
Like a statue she stood, so cold and white,
Searching, but vainly, into the night.

A tiny form with outstretched hands,
And pink feet glancing among the sands,
And a baby voice—"Mamma, mamma!"
But the merciless sea, shock after shock,
Assaulting the solid towering rock
With fearful echoes, re-echoing far,
Swallows the cry;
Did'st thou hear it not?

*******

There's a desolate heart and an empty cot.
And that little form, uncoffined and white,
Revealed by the gleams of the pale moonlight,
As pulseless it lay on the surf-washed shore,
Shall rest on her memory evermore.

'Tis this she sees in that quiet room,
Where all is wrapped in the gathering gloom;
And alone—God help her! she sits apart,
With folded hands and a broken heart!