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Two children stood on a blackened wharf,
Watching the ships at sea;
One resolute, brown-eyed, ruddy of face,
One fair as fair could be.


They leaned with arms on the slender rail,
Intent, with their lips apart;
Grave looks in their widened, serious eyes,
Grave questions in each young heart.


Whither goes that ship away in the blue,
Whence comes this over the bay?
Are men afraid when hurricanes come,
And the masts are torn away?


Is it very deep where the ships go down,
Is it dark down under the sea?
Is it cold? Does it hurt when sailors drown?
And what can a mermaid be?


What kind of a thing is an albatross,
And why do the sailors fear?
Has a shark such very strong teeth? Do whales
Fight hard when they feel the spear?


Are there jungles fierce with the eyes of beasts,
And gleams of ivory tusk?
Are there lovely laces, and sandal wood,
And jewels and odors of musk?


Are there caverns encrusted with gems and gold,
Where the sapphire and ruby shine?
And diamonds, more than a ship could hold,
In many a secret mine?


Does God know when fishers are out in storms,
Does He see when the mothers cry?
Does He hear little children praying to Him,
Does He care, 'way up in the sky?


The children watched till the golden shoes
Of the sunset wandered back,
Across the sheen of the purple sea
In a widening, glittering track.


Oh! long they stood on the blackened wharf,
As they questioned the heaving sea;
But never an answer came to them
Of the fathomless mystery.


Yet in the recesses of each young heart
Was the same resolve to go
Some day, with each other, in some great ship
And these wonderful things to know.


Some day to go over the great sea floors
To the regions so blue and dim,
To the radiant countries with golden shores,
And--ever and aye with him!


Some day to be captain, with bearded lip,
Bold arm and a stalwart stride;
One voice to thunder his stern command,
One tender and low for his bride.


Thus one with the strong and resolute face,
And one as the angels fair,
Re-acting the old, old drama of life,
With its castle mirage in the air!