Rhyme

A poem by Abram Joseph Ryan

One idle day --
A mile or so of sunlit waves off shore --
In a breezeless bay,
We listless lay --
Our boat a "dream of rest" on the still sea --
And -- we were four.

The wind had died
That all day long sang songs unto the deep;
It was eventide,
And far and wide
Sweet silence crept thro' the rifts of sound
With spells of sleep.

Our gray sail cast
The only cloud that flecked the foamless sea;
And weary at last
Beside the mast
One fell to slumber with a dreamy face,
And -- we were three.

No ebb! no flow!
No sound! no stir in the wide, wondrous calm;
In the sunset's glow
The shore shelved low
And snow-white, from far ridges screened with shade
Of drooping palm.

Our hearts were hushed;
All light seemed melting into boundless blue;
But the west was flushed
Where sunset blushed,
Thro' clouds of roses, when another slept
And -- we were two.

How still the air!
Not e'en a sea-bird o'er us waveward flew;
Peace rested there!
Light everywhere!
Nay! Light! some shadows fell on that fair scene,
And -- we are two.

Some shadows! Where?
No matter where! all shadows are not seen;
For clouds of care
To skies all fair
Will sudden rise as tears to shining eyes,
And dim their sheen.

We spake no word,
Tho' each I ween did hear the other's soul.
Not a wavelet stirred,
And yet we heard
The loneliest music of the weariest waves
That ever roll.

Yea! Peace, you swayed
Your sceptre jeweled with the evening light;
And then you said:
"Here falls no shade,
Here floats no sound, and all the seas and skies
Sleep calm and bright."

Nay! Peace, not so!
The wildest waves may feel thy sceptre's spell
And fear to flow,
But to and fro --
Beyond their reach lone waves on troubled seas
Will sink and swell.

No word e'en yet;
Were our eyes speaking while they watched the sky?
And in the sunset
Infinite regret
Swept sighing from the skies into our souls --
I wonder why?

A half hour passed --
'Twas more than half an age; 'tis ever thus.
Words came at last,
Fluttering and fast
As shadows veiling sunsets in the souls
Of each of us.

The noiseless night
Sped flitting like a ghost where waves of blue
Lost all their light,
As lips once bright
Whence smiles have fled; we or the wavelets sighed,
And -- we were two.

The day had gone:
And on the dim, high altar of the dark,
Stars, one by one,
Far, faintly shone;
The moonlight trembled, like a mother's smile,
Upon our bark.

We softly spoke:
The waves seemed listening on the lonely sea,
The winds awoke;
Our whispers broke
The spell of silence; and two eyes unclosed,
And -- we were three.

"The breeze blows fair,"
He said; "the waking waves set towards the shore."
The long brown hair
Of the other there,
Who slumbered near the mast with dreamy face
Stirred -- we were four.

That starry night,
A mile or so of shadows from the shore,
Two faces bright
With laughter light
Shone on two souls like stars that shine on shrines;
And -- we were four.

Over the reach
Of dazzling waves our boat like wild bird flew;
We reached the beach,
Nor song, nor speech
Shall ever tell our sacramental thought
When -- we were two.

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