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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Rosamund Marriott Watson b. 1860

Deid Folks’ Ferry

’T IS They, of a veritie—

They are calling thin an’ shrill;

We maun rise an’ put to sea,

We maun gi’e the deid their will,

We maun ferry them owre the faem,

For they draw us as they list;

We maun bear the deid folk hame

Through the mirk an’ the saft seamist.

“But how can I gang the nicht,

When I ’m new come hame frae sea?

When my heart is sair for the sicht

O’ my lass that langs for me?”

“O your lassie lies asleep,

An’ sae do your bairnies twa;

The cliff-path ’s stey an’ steep,

An’ the deid fok cry an’ ca’.”

O sae hooly steppit we,

For the nicht was mirk an’ lown,

Wi’ never a sign to see,

But the voices all aroun’.

We laid to the saut sea-shore,

An’ the boat dipped low i’ th’ tide,

As she micht hae dipped wi’ a score,

An’ our ain three sel’s beside.

O the boat she settled low,

Till her gunwale kissed the faem,

An’ she didna loup nor row

As she bare the deid folk hame;

But she aye gaed swift an’ licht,

An’ we naething saw nor wist

Wha sailed i’ th’ boat that nicht

Through the mirk an’ the saft sea-mist.

There was never a sign to see,

But a misty shore an’ low;

Never a word spak’ we,

But the boat she lichtened slow,

An’ a cauld sigh stirred my hair,

An’ a cauld hand touched my wrist,

An’ my heart sank cauld and sair

I’ the mirk an’ the saft sea-mist.

Then the wind raise up wi’ a maen,

(’T was a waefu’ wind, an’ weet),

Like a deid saul wud wi’ pain,

Like a bairnie wild wi’ freit;

But the boat rade swift an’ licht,

Sae we wan the land fu’ sune,

An’ the shore showed wan an’ white

By a glint o’ the waning mune.

We steppit oot owre the sand

Where an unco’ tide had been,

An’ Black Donald caught my hand

An’ coverit up his een:

For there, in the wind an’ weet,

Or ever I saw nor wist,

My Jean an’ her weans lay cauld at my feet,

In the mirk an’ the saft sea-mist.

An’ it ’s O for my bonny Jean!

An’ it ’s O for my bairnies twa,

It ’s O an’ O for the watchet een

An’ the steps that are gane awa’—

Awa’ to the Silent Place,

Or ever I saw nor wist,

Though I wot we twa went face to face

Through the mirk an’ the saft sea-mist.