Adrift! A little boat adrift!
And night is coming down!
Will no one guide a little boat
Unto the nearest town?
So sailors say–on yesterday–
Just as the dusk was brown
One little boat gave up its strife
And gurgled down and down.
So angels say–on yesterday–
Just as the dawn was red
One little boat–o’erspent with gales–
Retrimmed its masts–redecked its sails–
And shot–exultant on!
~~Emily Dickinson, c. summer 1858
Note: Several aspects of this poem appear in the paintings Manhood and Old Age by Thomas Cole, part of his allegorical series The Voyage of Life (1842). In one of her letters, Emily Dickinson signed herself as “Cole”.