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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Nancy Amelia Woodbury Priest Wakefield (1836–1870)

Over the River

OVER the river they beckon to me,

Loved ones who’ve crossed to the farther side;

The gleam of their snowy robes I see,

But their voices are lost in the dashing tide.

There’s one with ringlets of sunny gold,

And eyes the reflection of heaven’s own blue;

He crossed in the twilight gray and cold,

And the pale mist hid him from mortal view.

We saw not the angels who met him there,

The gates of the city we could not see:

Over the river, over the river,

My brother stands waiting to welcome me.

Over the river the boatman pale

Carried another, the household pet;

Her brown curls waved in the gentle gale,—

Darling Minnie! I see her yet.

She crossed on her bosom her dimpled hands,

And fearlessly entered the phantom bark;

We felt it glide from the silver sands,

And all our sunshine grew strangely dark.

We know she is safe on the farther side,

Where all the ransomed and angels be:

Over the river, the mystic river,

My childhood’s idol is waiting for me.

For none return from those quiet shores,

Who cross with the boatman cold and pale:

We hear the dip of the golden oars,

And catch a gleam of the snowy sail,

And lo! they have passed from our yearning hearts,

They cross the stream and are gone for aye.

We may not sunder the veil apart

That hides from our vision the gates of day;

We only know that their barks no more

May sail with us o’er life’s stormy sea:

Yet somewhere, I know, on the unseen shore,

They watch, and beckon, and wait for me.

And I sit and think, when the sunset’s gold

Is flushing river and hill and shore,

I shall one day stand by the water cold,

And list for the sound of the boatman’s oar:

I shall watch for a gleam of the flapping sail,

I shall hear the boat as it gains the strand.

I shall pass from sight with the boatman pale,

To the better shore of the spirit land;

I shall know the loved who have gone before,

And joyfully sweet will the meeting be,

When over the river, the peaceful river,

The angel of death shall carry me!