Henry Clay Work

1 October 1832 – 8 June 1884 / Middletown, Connecticut

The Prayer On The Pier

Proudly foats the ocean steamer,--
Throngs aboard and on the pier;
With orders, oaths, and farewells mingled,
What a medley greats the ear!
Off are cast the slack'ning cables;
Eager bells their signals ring!
While there on shore a group is kneeling;
Looking upward, now they sing:

O Thou who holdest,
In the hollow of thy hand,
All this vast ocean,
Unto this far off land;
Guard well, we pray thee,
When angry billows foam--
Guard well our lov'd ones,
And safely bring them home.

What a wondrous transformation!
What a magic change of scene!
The parted throngs transfix'd are gazing
'Cross the gulf that grows between.
Heads are bared, and knees are bended;
Voices all are silent there,
Save but the throbbing of the engine,
And that solemn choral prayer:

Rapidly the distance lenghens;
We have looked our last adieu,--
For each familiar form and feature
Now is fading from our view.
Glimpses yet of 'kerchiefs waving;
Watching still our friends remain;
And, waft by fresh'ning seaward breezes,
Faintly, sweetly comes the strain.
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