Once there was a boat, locked fast to a shore,
But rust ate the chain, day by day,
And the boat was loosened more and more,
As the fastenings slipped away.
Yet, any day, an outstretched hand,
Could have caught, and locked it again to land.
But never a hand was stretched to save,
And the boat at last was free;
And shot like an arrow over the wave,
And drifted out mid-sea.
And never, oh never, across the main,
Will the boat to the shore be brought again.
So was my heart, love--linked to thine;
But neglect ate the chains away:
Yet a tender word love, I opine,
Would have saved it, any day.
Ay! a tender word, said first or last,
Would have mended the chain, and held it fast.
But the word was lacking: and so my heart,
Slipped from its chains, like the boat.
And then as the last link fell apart,
It sped o'er the waves--afloat.
Nor pleading hands, nor words, you see,
Brings the boat to shore, or my heart to thee.
Shells by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Milwaukee: Hauser & Storey, 1873.
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