Misguided

How frail is the craft I am steering, how rapid the river sweeps on,
How many the rocks I am nearing, how luring the water-god's song.

The day is but young, yet I travel where currents with dangers are rife
Though waters are clear and the gravel but borders the river of Life

With such tiny stones that never hurt the tender soles of my feet,
I enter my barque and endeavor to master all dangers I meet.

Ah me, the reef under the foam-crest was first to grate hard on the keel,
I passed it when leaving the home-nest, but sometimes its shock yet I feel.

Down further some sharp rocks are catching what driftwood the waters supply
With careful and diligent watching I pilot my boat safely by.

And here is a snag where the river runs dizzily onward and fast,
My shallop flies by with a shiver — Thank Heaven that danger is past.

O, horror, I see in the distance sand-bars, am I running aground?
But no, with a giant resistance, to clear them I swing the boat round.

Here's a whirlpool, calm seem its terrors, insensibly I am drawn in.
My eyes can distinguish no errors — my conscience belittles the sin.

Its grasp is the grasp of a demon, and whispering faintly a prayer,
With errors almost superhuman, I pull from that deadliest snare.

The struggle has made me so weary, I rest for a space on my oar,
And look from the river so dreary to the sweetness of sky and shore.

How bright are the trees up above me, their colour so gorgeously blends,
The sky looks as though it could love me, and I laugh as we laugh on friends.

How brilliant its tints, so much stronger than shadows where I float and dream,
I'll watch them but one moment longer, then pilot my barque down the stream.

And so I lie lazily drifting forgetting my life boat to steer,
Nor seeing some dark rocks uplifting — sure, there can be nothing to fear!

O, fool! had I only but striven to turn from that sky colour flecked,
Too late, my frail shallop is riven, O, God, on the rocks I am wrecked.
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