Blue waves that wash a curved beach
Of sand, like drifted snow;
Song-waves, that sing in silvery speech,
A music soft and low.
A cloudless sun in heaven’s blue sweep;
Great stars, how near that seem!
The night an hour of sea-lulled sleep,
The day a rosy dream.
Sea’s Answer, The
I am the Sea, which God’s controlling hand
Holds in command.
Subservient in seeming good or ill
To work His will.
Or if my voice in peace or pain be heard
I speak His word;
He shapes His purpose through world-wrack or rest
As seems Him best.
This globe-of his vast universe a part-
I am, thou art,
An atom, each, in the eternal plan
We may not scan.
The wind blows cold and the wind blow keen,
And the dreary wintry sleet is falling;
And ever the sand-dunes, white, between
The Ocean voice is callig.
Calls with the sound that the sailor fears;
And the gulls. Low-flying, hasten in,
And the bent boughs shiver in fringe of tears
While the long night hours begin.
But over the path thro’ the Golden Door,
Where the troubled billows oam and flee,
Bonita’s Light from its rocky shore
Shines out to the ships at sea.
Sea, The *
This is my Sea, that to its circling sands
Reached dimpled hands,
Like a tired child that, lulled to slumber, lay
Now a huge, hungry beast that from its lair
Would leap to tear
And crush and mangle and destroy its prey,
It threats today.
This too will cease, my Sea! Cease as a dream!
But wilt thou seem
Ever again, in anger or in play,
* The sound of the ocean on San Francisco’s ‘Tragic Dawn’
April 18,1906, the date of the great earthquake, is said to
have been appalling.
“And love will stay-a summer’s day! ”
A long wave rippled up the strand;
She flashed a white hand through the spray,
And plucked a sea-shell form the sand.
And, softly: “ Let thy heart have peace.
Mine shall not fail in aught to thee,
Until this little shell doth cease
To sing its love-the sea.”
Ah, well! Sweet summer’s past and gone,
And love, perhaps, dreads winter weather,
And so the happy dears are flown
On careless wings together!
And yet I smile: this pearly-lined,
Rose-veined shell she gave to me,
With foolish, faithful lips to find
Still singing of the sea!
At Anchor *
Swing to the harbor from the deep sea,
O Sail of mine, but hold the sea in sight!
These are my fronded palms, my cocoa tree,
And these the islands of my heart’s delight!
My lift of emerald hills against the blue
From blue; the feathery mists of waterfalls;
The winged gems that flash the foliage through,
Filling the air with fluted madrigals.
The wash of waves upon the coral reef-
O song familiar, of the long ago! -
The lap of waves, where blade and lance and leaf,
Fringing the water’s rim, are glassed below.
And here my tawny Comrades laugh, and reach
Warm hands of mine-the dear brown hands I knew-
With glad, glad greetings in soft-voweled speech,
From hearts that have remembered and been true.
Long have I wandered, tossed by storm tides,
Benumbered in calms-but here, how sure the sea!
Furl the worn sails-the ship at anchor rides-
Leave me with these! Leave me to these and Thee!
* In memory of Charles Warren Stoddard, author of South Sea Idyls, ’ etc.
As in a quiet dream
The mighty waters seem;
Scarcely a ripple shows
Upon their blue repose.
The sea-gulls smoothly ride
Upon the drowsy tide,
And a while sail doth sleep
Far out upon the deep.
A dreamy purple fills
The hollows of the hills;
A single cloud floats through
The sky’s serenest blue;
And far beyond the Gate
The massed vapors wait-
White as the walls that ring
The City of the King.
There is no sound, no word:
Only a happy bird
Trills to her nestling young
A little, sleepy song.
This is the holy calm;
The heavens dropping balm;
The Love made manifest,
And near; the perfect rest.
The day grows wan and cold.
In through the Gate of Gold
The restless vapors glide,
Like ghosts upon the tide.
The brown bird folds her wing,
Sad, with no song to sing.
Along the streets the dust
Blows sharp, with sudden gust.
The night comes, chill and gray.
Over the the sullen bay,
What mournful echoes pass
From lonely Alcatraz!
O bell, with solemn toll,
As for a passing soul-
As for a soul that waits,
In vain, at heaven’s gates!
This is the utter blight;
The sorrow infinite
Of earth; the closing wave;
The parting, and the grave.
Under The Christmas Snow
Most lives lie more in the shadow, I think, than in the sun,
And the shadow from some is lifted only when life is done;
And so, though I wear mourning, I am glad at heart to know,
She rests in her still white slumber, under the Christmas snow.
She was to have married Philip. He sailed withhis ship in June.
How long they walked by the sea that night, under the waning moon!
“A year and a day of parting, and a lifetime, sweet, with you.”
Ah me, but we dream life bravely, if only our dreams came true!
She spoke of him very little: ‘twas never her way to talk;
But the restless nights, the restless days, the long, long tireless walk,
Forever beside the ocean. I fancied, almost, there grew
A picture of ocean within her eyes. O tend’rest eyes I knew!
Forever the ocean! Until her heart seemed even to time its beat
With the pulse and the throb of the waters that drifted to her feet;
She smiled when the sea was smiling, and her face in the tempest roar
Grew white as the fury of breakers, that beat on the rocky shore.
Again and again in dead of night, I wakened to find-ah me! -
The still, white form at the window that looked on the lonely sea.
Forever and ever the ocean! And I thought, with yearning pain,
“If only the year were over, and Philip were back again! ”
June passed into December. We were merry at Christmas-tide.
Berry and oak and holly, and folk from the country-side;
Music and feast and frolic, laughter and life and light-
I never missed poor Maggie, till far into the night.
Why should I think of the saying, somewhere that I had read:
“Pray for the one beloved, if he be living or dead,
In the hush of the Christmas midnight he will appear to thee.”
O Maggie, sister Maggie, down by the moaning sea! -
Still as a ghost in the moonlight; white as the drifted snow;
Cold as the pitiless waters, surging to and fro.
Why are your arms extended-what do your eyes behold?
O Maggie, sister Maggie, never your lips have told!
I do not like to speak it. You surely will understand.
She was always gentle and harmless; -nay, when the days are bland’
Quite happy, I think; but in winter, when winds and waves were high,
She would shudder at times, and utter a pitiful, moaning cry.
Singer Of The Sea, The
In Memory of Celia Thaxter.
There is a shadow on the sea!
And a murmur, and a moan,
In its muffed monotone,
Like a solemn threnody;
And the sea-gulls, on their white
Pinions, moving to and fro,
Are like phantoms, in their flight;
As they sweep from off the gray,
Misty headlands, far away,
And about the Beacon Light,
Wheel in circles, low and slow,
Wheel and circle, peer and cry,
As though seeling, restlessly,
Something vanished from their sight.
As though listening for the clear
Tones they never more may hear, -
Music missing from the day,
Music, missing from the night, -
Through the years, that wax and wane,
That may never sound again.
She, who ever loved the sea,
Loved and voiced its minstrelsy, -
Sang its white-caps, tossing free,
Sang the ceasless breaker-shocks,
Dashing, crashing, on the rocks,
Sang itsmoon-drawn tides, its speech,
Silver-soft, upon the beach,
Walks the margin’s golden floor, -
Floats upon its breast no more,
Nay! how know we this to be?
That the forms we may not see,
Passed from mortal touch and ken,
Never come to earth again?
When the brittle house of clay
From the spirit breaks away,
Does the mind forego its will?
Is the voice’s music still?
Do the hands forget their skill?
From the harp-great homer’s heart, -
Do not mighty numbers come?
Lost, divinest Raphael’s art,
And the lips of Shakespeare dumb?
All the years of joy and pain
That are lived, but lived in vain;
Memory’s graven page a blot,
Unrecorded and forgot!
Oh, believe, believe it not!
Man is God’s incarnate thought:
Life, with all the gifts He gave,
All the wondrous powers He wrought,
Finds not ending at the grave.
Part, himself, of Deity,
Man, the spirit, can not die.
“In my Father’s house are
Many mansions.” Did Christ say
Whether near, or whether far?
It may be beside us still
Bide these forms invisible;
Or, if passed to realms away,
Beyond sight’s remotest star,
Does that bind the soul to stay, -
Never, never, to retrace
The golden passage-ways of space? -
As a parted child might yearn
For the mothers arms, and turn,
Fain to look on Earth’s dear face.
‘Twixt the heart that loves and her
Space could place no barrier:
Thought, that swifter is than light,
Leaps a universe in flight.
So I love to think, indeed,
That this singing spirit, free
From her lesser, lower height-
Soaring to the Infinite, -
Turns with loving eyes, and a smile,
Still Sees the tower’s beacon-light,
Shining safely through the night;
Sees the white surf as it rolls
Round her treasured Isle of Shoals, -
Looking from that vaster sea,
Which we name Eternity.