I first read this poem in the days following the horrific attacks on September 11, 2001. Henry Van Dyke has since become one of my favorite writers and I now own several of his collections, published in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. His words brought me comfort then and they still do. I’ve considered requesting it be used at my own funeral one day.
We are always in motion, we busy humans. We’ve been dying since we took our first breath, yet we run from death hopefully living life to our fullest. We run, we play. We celebrate, we party. We ache, we mourn. Finally we expire, naturally or before our time.
But is that end? I don’t believe so. My faith tells me otherwise. And so does my heart.
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote “The road goes ever on.” Yes it does, and so do we. Deo Gratias.
I Am Standing Upon The Seashore
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says;
“There, she is gone!”
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, “There, she is gone!”
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout;
“Here she comes!”
And that is dying.
–Henry Van Dyke
A final note: After much consideration, and after re-reading this poem once more while reflecting upon the ten years that have passed since that terrible day, I’ve decided that I’m going to set sail and embark on a new journey, one that will be leading me away from this home I’ve had online for over three years. The as yet undiscovered country has been taking shape in my mind and on paper for awhile now. As Van Dyke pointed out leaving one thing behind is merely moving towards another. I forward to what lies ahead.
Thank you all for reading. We’ll meet again.