It was my watch, and so alone
I walked the deck-boards to and fro.
Across the bay San Marco’s dome
Rose black against the sun’s last glow,
And soft the Campanile’s bells
Tolled day’s last hour as darkness fell.
Then by my side there stood a man.
From whence he came I did not ken;
He grasped my wrist and in my hand
He pressed a ring and charged me then:
“Keep, keep this ring at every cost
Your joy lies there, and woe if lost.
Success and happiness are yours
As long as you preserve the ring,
But pain and woe do lie in store
If you should cast away this thing”
The stranger’s gift I gladly took
For truth was in the stranger’s look.
And I was highly satisfied
So easily my joy to keep!
The sails all shook — a cool wind sighed,
My mates below lay safe asleep,
And well secured I thought my state
For in my hand now lay my fate.
My finger through the ring I thrust
I took a pleasing comfort then
For this my newly given trust,
And took my lonely watch again.
The sails all shook, the deck-boards creaked.
Then at my side I heard one speak:
“What ring upon your finger shines?”
I saw a man by lantern's light,
His manner elegant, refined
His face was reasonable and right.
He eyed the ring with casual glance
And of it asked, as if by chance.