Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!
- The fancy, "stately ships" pass by the speaker and head to their "haven," or protected port.
- The port is "under the hill," so there must be a big hill overlooking it.
- The speaker isn't distracted by the ships, though. Sure, he notices them, but his mind is elsewhere.
- He's just wishing he could "touch" the "vanish'd hand" and hear "the voice that is still." This is the first explanation of why the speaker is so sad. He's grieving for someone he loved who is now dead.
- He doesn't come out and describe the dead friend, though – he just lists a series of missing things: the "hand" and the "voice." The lost friend is described as a series of absent parts.