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

Richard Garnett 1835–1906

The Island of Shadows


YES, Cara mine, I know that I shall stand

Upon the seashore soon,

And watch the waves that die upon the strand,

And the immortal moon.

One mew will hover ’mid the drowsy damp

That clogs the breezes there,

One star suspend her solitary lamp,

High in the viewless air.

My straining eyes will mark a distant oar,

Grazing the supple sea,

And a light pinnace speeding to the shore,

And in it thou wilt be.

The empty veins with life no more are warm,

The eyes no longer shine,

The pale star gazes through the pallid form,

What matter? thou art mine.

The Love which, while it walk’d the earth, could meet

No place to lay its head,

Now reigns unchallenged in the winding-sheet,

Nor fears its kindred dead.

For Love dwells with the dead, though more sedate,

Chasten’d, and mild it seems;

While Avarice, Envy, Jealousy, and Hate,

With them are only dreams.

I step into the boat, our steady prore

Furrows the still moonlight;

The sea is merry with our plashing oar,

With our quick rudder white.

No word has pass’d thy lips, but yet I know

Well where our course will be;

We leave the worn-out world—is it not so?—

The uncorrupted sea

To cross, and gain some isle in whose sweet shade

Even Slavery is free;

And careless Care on smoothest rose-leaves laid

Becomes Tranquillity.

Far, far the haunts where, rob’d in gory weeds,

Grim War his court doth hold,

And mumbling Superstition counts his beads,

And Avarice his gold.

But Love and Death, the comrades and the twins,

Uninterrupted reign;

Where is it that one ends and one begins?

And are they one or twain?

And all is like thy soul, pensive and fair,

Veil’d in a shadowy dress,

And strewn with gems more rich were they more rare,

And steep’d in balminess.

No drossy shape of earthliness appears

On the phantastic coast,

No grosser sound strikes the attuned ears

Than footfall of a ghost.

Seclusion, quiet, silence, slumber, dreams,

No murmur of a breath;

The same still image on the same still streams,

Of Love caressing Death.

So let us hasten, Love! Our steady prore

Furrows the still moonlight;

The sea is merry with our plashing oar,

With our quick rudder white.