How frail is the craft he is steering, how rapid the river speeds on,
How many the rocks he is nearing, how luring the water god's song.

How gay rings his happy young laughter, as tossed in the play of the stream,
Courageous and brave he sails after the fair golden fleece of his dream.

Once only, the tears rise to blind him, 'tis when he looks backward and sees,
The mother and home far behind him—then trims he again to the breeze.

Ah me! the reef under the foam crest was first to grate hard on the keel,
He passed it when leaving the home-nest, but sharp was the shock he could feel.

Down farther some bold rocks are catching what driftwood the waters supply,
With careful and diligent watching he pilots his boat safely by.

And here is a snag where the river runs dizzily onward and fast,
His shallop flies by with a shiver, thank heaven that danger is past.

O! horror, he sees in the distance sand bars, is he running aground?
But no, with a giant resistance, to clear them he swings the boat 'round.

Here's a whirlpool, calm seem its terrors, insensibly he is drawn in,
His eyes can distinguish no errors, his conscience belittles the sin.

Its grasp is the grasp of a demon, and whispering faintly a prayer,
With efforts almost superhuman, he pulls from that deadliest snare.

The struggle has made him so weary he rests for a space on his oar,
And looks from the river now dreary to the sweetness of sky and shore.

Red and saffron the clouds glow above him, the sun in a splendour descends,
The world looks as though it could love him, and he laughs as we laugh on friends.

How brilliant the scene, so much stronger than shadows which 'round him remain,
He'll watch it but one moment longer, then look to his helm again.

And so he lies idle, and drifting, forgetting his lifeboat to steer.
Nor seeing some dark rocks uplifting, sure there can be nothing to fear!

O, fool! had he only but striven to turn from that sky colour-flecked—
Too late, his frail shallop is riven, O, God! on the rocks he is wrecked.
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