Cordula's Web. grey_mare. Gulf of Mexico from the beach in Biloxi.
grey_mare. Gulf of Mexico from the beach in Biloxi. Copyright © Mary B. Hollinger. Gallery 35


Louisa Sarah Guggenberger Bevington

A human soul has slipped its moorings, and the helpless bark
Goes drifting, drifting, all adrift, without one guiding spark,
On the boundless main of Being, in the utter dark.

Drifting, drifting, drifting in infinite despair;
Sending spirit-tortured questions shrieking thro' the air,
"Is there God, or Love, or Purpose, ruling anywhere?"

"Answer! answer! answer!" So the wretched soul has cried,
"Any throb from any quarter I would take for guide!"
Broods an unregarding silence on th' eternal tide.

Not a shimmer of a rending in the hideous night;
Not the faintest token to reward the o'erstrung sight;
Not a breath of heaven's wind to fill the sail aright.

In the heart a hopelessness, a chaos in the head,
Only helpless driftings, undriven, and unled:
Aye! 'tis an awful thing to be, and be abandonèd.

The longer grows the silence, the sicker grows the brain;
The madder are the red-hot whirlings of the thoughts in pain;
"Drifting into Nothingness? and drifting there in vain?"

Drifting, oh! so sadly, through a silent, unruled realm;
Tired, tired, tired, with clinging to the helm:
Abject longings that the waves might rage, and overwhelm.

Comes a faintly sighing Something, nearer, nearer, nearer;
Shines a little flickering ray, clearer, clearer, clearer;
Grows a little clinging hope, dearer, dearer, dearer.

Driftingm, a whole fleet of them! drifting every one!
Why? oh! why? whose are they, Sky? and why is each alone?
The question deepens; yet, methinks, its great despair is gone.

A fleet of souls, all ignorant, all rudderless at sea,
Each drifted into being, driven adrift thro' mystery
Until they fall asleep of it and driftings cease to be!

Not one of all the souls can point the others where to steer;
Not any voice proclaims with sureness "There is meaning here;"
Not one may hold a light to make his neighbour's vision clear.

Still deaf silence broods athwart a sea of mystery,
Still no beacon focusses the blank obscurity;
Only, in the ghastly void, there wakes a Sympathy.

Whispers go from like to like, and love from soul to soul;
A crowd of human loneliness at least is round and whole;
Each in the mutual amaze may half forget the goal.

The hidden goal! far poised in dense invisibility,
Ruling the sum of being ere itself begins to be,
That strong unborn that wrests effect from cause, Futurity.

Go, fleet of drifters! looking hither, thither, thro' the grey;
Rejoice in this, at least, that all the drifting sets one way;
There is a current, then: maybe it tends towards the day.

At last, who knows? a light may break most beautifully broad
To show ye how the drifting all along the billowy road
Was drifting into life and rest. Aye! say it, home to God.