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Short poem

Celia Thaxter (1835-1894)

The Sandpiper

              1Across the lonely beach we flit,
              2    One little sandpiper and I,
              3And fast I gather, but by bit,
              4    The scattered drift-wood, bleached and dry.
              5The wild waves reach their hands for it,
              6    The wild wind raves, the tide runs high,
              7As up and down the beach we flit,
              8    One little sandpiper and I.

              9Above our heads the sullen clouds
            10    Scud, black and swift, across the sky:
            11Like silent ghosts in misty shrouds
            12    Stand out the white light-houses high.
            13Almost as far as eye can reach
            14    I see the close-reefed vessels fly,
            15As fast we flit along the beach,
            16    One little sandpiper and I.

            17I watch him as he skims along,
            18    Uttering his sweet and mournful cry;
            19He starts not at my fitful song,
            20    Nor flash of fluttering drapery.
            21He has no thought of any wrong,
            22    He scans me with a fearless eye;
            23Stanch friends are we, well tried and strong,
            24    The little sandpiper and I.

            25Comrade, where wilt thou be to-night,
            26    When the loosed storm breaks furiously?
            27My drift-wood fire will burn so bright!
            28    To what warm shelter canst thou fly?
            29I do not fear for thee, though wroth
            30    The tempest rushes through the sky;
            31For are we not God's children both,
            32    Thou, little sandpiper, and I?


1] lonely: "narrow" in Thaxter's Stories and Poems for Children (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1911): 113.

20] Nor: "Or" in 1911.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Our Young Folks: An Illustrated Magazine for Boys and Girls, 1 (Feb. 1865): 84-85. Facsimile in Yankee Doodle's Literary Sampler of Prose, Poetry, & Pictures Being an Anthology of Diverse Works Published for the Edification and/or Entertainment of Young Readers in America Before 1900, Selected from the Rare Book Collections of the Library of Congress and Introduced by Virginia Haviland and Margaret N. Coughlan (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1974): 333. Z 1232 H38 1974 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1865
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/1/24

Rhyme: abababab or ababcbcb

Other poems by Celia Thaxter