Seven Times Seven. Longing For Home.

A poem by Jean Ingelow


A song of a boat: -
There was once a boat on a billow:
Lightly she rocked to her port remote,
And the foam was white in her wake like snow,
And her frail mast bowed when the breeze would blow
And bent like a wand of willow.


I shaded mine eyes one day when a boat
Went curtseying over the billow,
I marked her course till a dancing mote
She faded out on the moonlit foam,
And I stayed behind in the dear loved home;
And my thoughts all day were about the boat,
And my dreams upon the pillow.


I pray you hear my song of a boat,
For it is but short: -
My boat, you shall find none fairer afloat,
In river or port.
Long I looked out for the lad she bore,
On the open desolate sea,
And I think he sailed to the heavenly shore,
For he came not back to me -
Ah me!


A song of a nest: -
There was once a nest in a hollow:
Down in the mosses and knot-grass pressed,
Soft and warm, and full to the brim -
Vetches leaned over it purple and dim,
With buttercup buds to follow.


I pray you hear my song of a nest,
For it is not long: -
You shall never light, in a summer quest
The bushes among -
Shall never light on a prouder sitter,
A fairer nestful, nor ever know
A softer sound than their tender twitter
That wind-like did come and go.


I had a nestful once of my own,
Ah happy, happy I!
Right dearly I loved them: but when they were grown
They spread out their wings to fly -
O, one after one they flew away
Far up to the heavenly blue,
To the better country, the upper day,
And - I wish I was going too.


I pray you, what is the nest to me,
My empty nest?
And what is the shore where I stood to see
My boat sail down to the west?
Can I call that home where I anchor yet,
Though my good man has sailed?
Can I call that home where my nest was set,
Now all its hope hath failed?
Nay, but the port where my sailor went,
And the land where my nestlings be:
There is the home where my thoughts are sent,
The only home for me -
Ah me!

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