Ships that Pass in the Night

Original Text: 
The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar (New York: Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1913), Facsimile in The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar, ed. Joanne M. Braxton (Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1993), p. 64. PS 1556 AI 1993 Robarts Library.
1Out in the sky the great dark clouds are massing;
2    I look far out into the pregnant night,
3Where I can hear the solemn booming gun
4    And catch the gleaming of a random light,
5That tells me that the ship I seek is passing, passing.
6My tearful eyes my soul's deep hurt are glassing;
7    For I would hail and check that ship of ships.
8I stretch my hands imploring, cry aloud,
9    My voice falls dead a foot from mine own lips,
10And but its ghost doth reach that vessel, passing, passing.
11O Earth, O Sky, O Ocean, both surpassing,
12    O heart of mine, O soul that dreads the dark!
13Is there no hope for me? Is there no way
14    That I may sight and check that speeding bark
15Which out of sight and sound is passing, passing?
Publication Start Year: 
1895
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.