A Message From The Sea

The stormy afternoon was past,
And in the dim grey sky,
Between great hoary clouds, the sun
Looked out with lurid eye:
And we, two strangers from the town, the sea breeze yearning for,
Walked down between the fishers' cots, and went toward the shore.

The beach was still enough, but yet
The tempest left its track,
And almost fearfully we passed
Torn nets and heaps of wrack:
There is a mystic mockery about the wind and storm,
They make such rude and simple things so like a human form!

My sister's face was strangely pale,
A thrill was in her tone,
Her brown eyes looked like those who watch
To have some mystery shown:
I only thought, 'Hope wears the heart,—ay, even more than Fear,
And Bessie waits for one she loves,—I would that he were here!'

The lurid sun sank in the sea,
But left a glare behind;
And the slow tide those treasures left
Which loiterers love to find;
My sister turned aside to pick what seemed a glittering shell;
And from some church I could not see, there tolled a solemn knell.

I turned and saw that Bessie knelt
Upon the crunching sand;
'O God, Thy help! ' she said, and kissed
That something in her hand,
And then she held it out to me—a grievous sight to bear—
A locket I had seen before, filled with her own bright hair.

The waves had left it at her feet,
To bid her hope no more;
He whom she waited, watched for her
Upon a calmer shore:
And very soon she went to him: our youngest and our best
Sleeps sweetly by the moaning sea, with its message on her breast.