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From The Wit and Humor of America, edited by Marshall P. Wilder, Volume IV, New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls and Company, 1911; pp. 645-646.





If you were ferryman at Charon’s ford,
And I came down the bank and called to you,
Waved you my hand and asked to come aboard,
And threw you kisses there, what would you do?

Would there be such a crowd of other girls,
Pleading and pale and lonely as the sea,
You’d growl in your old beard, and shake your curls,
And say there was no room for little me?

Would you remember each of them in turn?
Put all your faded fancies in the bow,
And all the rest before you in the stern,
And row them out with panic on your brow?

If I came down and offered you my fare
And more beside, could you refuse me there?


If I were ferryman in Charon’s place,
And ran that crazy scow with perilous skill,
I should be so worn out with keeping trace
Of gibbering ghosts and bidding them sit still,
If you should come with daisies in your hands,
Strewing their petals on the sombre stream, —
“He will come,” and “He won’t come,” down the lands
Of pallid reverie and ghostly dream, —

I would let every clamouring shape stand there,
And give its shadowy lungs free vent in vain,
While you with earthly roses in your hair,
And I grown young at sight of you again,

Went down the stream once more at half-past seven
To find some brand-new continent of heaven.

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