The Water Nymphs

They hide in the brook when I seek to draw nearer,
Laughing amain when I feign to depart;
Often I hear them, now faint and now clearer—
Innocent bold or so sweetly discreet.
Are they Nymphs of the Stream at their playing
Or but the brook I mistook for a voice?
Little care I; for, despite harsh Time’s flaying,
Brook voice or Nymph voice still makes me rejoice.

by Ellis Parker Butler.

Sunday Up The River

MY love o'er the water bends dreaming;
   It glideth and glideth away:
She sees there her own beauty, gleaming
   Through shadow and ripple and spray.

O tell her, thou murmuring river,
   As past her your light wavelets roll,
How steadfast that image for ever
   Shines pure in pure depths of my soul.

by James Thomson.

A South-Sea Islander

ALOLL in the warm clear water,
On her back with languorous limbs,
She lies. The baby upon her breasts
Paddles and falls and swims.
With half-closed eyes she smiles,
Guarding it with her hands;
And the sob swells up in my heart —
In my heart that understands.
Dear, in the English country,
The hatefullest land on earth,
The mothers are starved and the children die,
And death is better than birth!

by Francis William Lauderdale Adams.

Behind us lay the homely shore
With youthful memories aureoled;
A sky of dazzling blue before,
We sailed a sea of molten gold.

To our old haven we return;
By smoky hills as grey as mud
We see the sullen sunset burn
Malignant on a lake of blood.

Yes, we return: but memory roams
A foul, bleak age of pain that yields
The smoke and flame of ruined homes,
The muck of cannon-pitted fields.

by John Le Gay Brereton.

St. Patrick's Day

There's an Isle, a green Isle, set in the sea,
Here's to the Saint that blessed it!
And here's to the billows wild and free
That for centuries have caressed it!

Here's to the day when the men that roam
Send longing eyes o'er the water!
Here's to the land that still spells home
To each loyal son and daughter!

Here's to old Ireland-fair, I ween,
With the blue skies stretched above her!
Here's to her shamrock warm and green,
And here's to the hearts that love her!

by Jean Blewett.

Come on the sea, beloved,
Fearless and free;
Leave friends and wealth behind;
Come, come with me.
My bark on the water shines
A fairy thing; -
See her pennon, mast, and keel!
She is but a little shell,
Yet there I am king.

The earth was made for the slave,
Oh maiden free!
But for man, the stern and brave,
The boundless sea.
The waves breathe in their flow
A mystery,
And tenderly they sing,
In their soft murmuring, -
Love, Liberty.

by Anne Charlotte Lynch Botta.

Upon The Fish In The Water

The water is the fish's element;
Take her from thence, none can her death prevent;
And some have said, who have transgressors been,
As good not be, as to be kept from sin.

2.

The water is the fish's element:
Leave her but there, and she is well content.
So's he, who in the path of life doth plod,
Take all, says he, let me but have my God.

3.

The water is the fish's element,
Her sportings there to her are excellent;
So is God's service unto holy men,
They are not in their element till then.

by John Bunyan.

The heroes of the present and the past
Were puny, vague, and nothingness to thee:
Thou didst a span grasp mighty to the last,
And strain for glory when thy die was cast.
That little island, on the Atlantic sea,
Was but a dust-spot in a lake: thy mind
Swept space as shoreless as eternity.
Thy giant powers outstript this gaudy age
Of heroes; and, as looking at the sun,
So gazing on thy greatness, made men blind
To merits, that had adoration won
In olden times. The world was on thy page
Of victories but a comma. Fame could find
No parallel, thy greatness to presage.

by John Clare.

To A River In Which A Child Was Drowned

Smiling river, smiling river,
On thy bosom sun-beams play;
Though they're fleeting, and retreating,
Thou hast more deceit than they.


In thy channel, in thy channel,
Choak'd with ooze and grav'lly stones,
Deep immersed, and unhearsed,
Lies young Edward's corse: his bones


Ever whitening, ever whitening,
As thy waves against them dash;
What thy torrent, in the current,
Swallow'd, now it helps to wash.


As if senseless, as if senseless
Things had feeling in this case;
What so blindly, and unkindly,
It destroy'd, it now does grace.

by Charles Lamb.

Sonnet Lxx: On Being Cautioned Against Walking On An Headland Overlooking The Sea, Because It Was Frequented By A Lunatic

Is there a solitary wretch who hies
To the tall cliff, with starting pace or slow,
And, measuring, views with wild and hollow eyes
Its distance from the waves that chide below;
Who, as the sea-born gale with frequent sighs
Chills his cold bed upon the mountain turf,
With hoarse, half-utter'd lamentation, lies
Murmuring responses to the dashing surf?
In moody sadness, on the giddy brink,
I see him more with envy than with fear;
He has no nice felicities that shrink
From giant horrors; wildly wandering here,
He seems (uncursed with reason) not to know
The depth or the duration of his woe.

by Charlotte Smith.

Lines To A Lady

YES! heaven protect thee, thou gem of the ocean;
Dear land of my sires, though distant thy shores;
Ere my heart cease to love thee, its latest emotion,
The last dying throbs of its pulse must be o'er.

And dark were the bosom, and cold and unfeeling,
That tamely could listen unmoved at the call,
When woman, the warm soul of melody stealing,
Laments for her country and sighs o'er its fall.

Sing on, gentle warbler, the tear-drop appearing
Shall fall for the woes of the queen of the sea;
And the spirit that breathes in the harp of green Erin,
Descending, shall hail thee her 'Cushlamachree.'

by Joseph Rodman Drake.

The Moon And Sea

Whilst the moon decks herself in Neptune's glass
And ponders over her image in the sea,
Her cloudy locks smoothing from off her face
That she may all as bright as beauty be;
It is my wont to sit upon the shore
And mark with what an even grace she glides
Her two concurrent paths of azure o'er,
One in the heavens, the other in the tides:
Now with a transient veil her face she hides
And ocean blackens with a human frown;
Now her fine screen of vapour she divides
And looks with all her light of beauty down;
Her splendid smile over-silvering the main
Spreads her the glass she looks into again.

by George Darley.

Sonnet Lxxii. To The Morning Star

THEE! lucid arbiter 'twixt day and night,
The seaman greets, as on the ocean stream
Reflected, thy precursive friendly beam
Points out the long-sought haven to his sight.
Watching for thee, the lover's ardent eyes
Turn to the eastern hills; and as above
Thy brilliance trembles, hails the lights that rise
To guide his footsteps to expecting love!
I mark thee too, as night's dark clouds retire,
And thy bright radiance glances on the sea;
But never more shall thy heraldic fire
Speak of approaching morn with joy to me!
Quench'd in the gloom of death that heavenly ray
Once lent to light me on my thorny way!

by Charlotte Smith.

Sonnet Xxxiii. To The Naiad Of The Arun

GO, rural Naiad! wind thy stream along
Through woods and wilds: then seek the ocean caves
Where sea-nymphs meet their coral rocks among,
To boast the various honours of their waves!
'Tis but a little, o'er thy shallow tide,
That toiling trade her burden'd vessel leads;
But laurels grow luxuriant on thy side,
And letters live along thy classic meads.
Lo! where 'mid British bards thy natives shine!
And now another poet helps to raise
Thy glory high--the poet of the MINE ,
Whose brilliant talents are his smallest praise:
And who, to all that genius can impart,
Adds the cool head, and the unblemish'd heart.

by Charlotte Smith.

In the grey dawn I lie within my bed
Still as a frozen lake that pats no more
With murmurous delight the o'erhanging shore,
Yet grim thoughts heave obscurely in my head;
For curtains I have earthen walls, and lead
Is colder than the woollen garb I wore--
But oh! that heart of mine is still as sore
As when I did not know that I was dead.
I knew her (O my Life!) and she was fair,
And gave her beauty to the hills and sea,
The wonder of her voice to leaf and wave.
The brown earth lies between us; does she care
That since she cast the first dull clod on me
My lonely heart is aching in the grave?

by John Le Gay Brereton.

Sonnet To Lake Leman

Rousseau -- Voltaire -- our Gibbon -- De Staël --
Leman! these names are worthy of thy shore,
Thy shore of names like these! wert thou no more,
Their memory thy remembrance would recall:
To them thy banks were lovely as to all,
But they have made them lovelier, for the lore
Of mighty minds doth hallow in the core
Of human hearts the ruin of a wall
Where dwelt the wise and wondrous; but by thee
How much more, Lake of Beauty! do we feel,
In sweetly gliding o'er thy crystal sea,
The wild glow of that not ungentle zeal,
Which of the heirs of immortality
Is proud, and makes the breath of glory real!

by George Gordon Byron.

It keeps eternal whisperings around
Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
Gluts twice ten thousand Caverns, till the spell
Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
Often 'tis in such gentle temper found,
That scarcely will the very smallest shell
Be moved for days from where it sometime fell.
When last the winds of Heaven were unbound.
Oh, ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired,
Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea;
Oh ye! whose ears are dinned with uproar rude,
Or fed too much with cloying melody---
Sit ye near some old Cavern's Mouth and brood,
Until ye start, as if the sea nymphs quired!

by John Keats.

Epitaph On Two Young Men Of The Name Of Leitch, Who Were Drowned In Crossing The River Southesk

O thou! whose steps in sacred reverence tread
These lone dominions of the silent dead;
On this sad stone a pious look bestow,
Nor uninstructed read this tale of woe;
And while the sigh of sorrow heaves thy breast,
Let each rebellious murmur be suppress'd;
Heaven's hidden ways to trace, for us how vain!
Heaven's wise decrees, how impious to arraign!
Pure from the stains of a polluted age,
In early bloom of life they left the stage:
Not doom'd in lingering woe to waste their breath,
One moment snatch'd them from the power of Death:
They lived united, and united died;
Happy the friends whom Death cannot divide!

by James Beattie.

Sonnet. On The Sea

It keeps eternal whisperings around
Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
Gluts twice ten thousand caverns, till the spell
Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
Often 'tis in such gentle temper found
That scarcely will the very smallest shell
Be mov'd for days from whence it sometime fell,
When last the winds of heaven were unbound.
Oh ye! who have your eye-balls vex'd and tir'd,
Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea;
Oh ye! whose ears are dinn'd with uproar rude,
Or fed too much with cloying melody,--
Sit ye near some old cavern's mouth, and brood
Until ye start, as if the sea-nymphs quir'd!

by John Keats.

Lines To A Lady, On Hearing Her Sing

Yes! heaven protect thee, thou gem of the ocean;
Dear land of my sires, though distant thy shores;
Ere my heart cease to love thee, its latest emotion,
The last dying throbs of its pulse must be o'er.

And dark were the bosom, and cold and unfeeling,
That tamely could listen unmoved at the call,
When woman, the warm soul of melody stealing,
Laments for her country and sighs o'er its fall.

Sing on, gentle warbler, the tear-drop appearing
Shall fall for the woes of the queen of the sea;
And the spirit that breathes in the harp of green Erin,
Descending, shall hail thee her "Cushlamachree."

by Joseph Rodman Drake.

I lived with visions for my company
Instead of men and women, years ago,
And found them gentle mates, nor thought to know
A sweefer music than they played to me.
But soon their trailing purple was not free
Of this world's dust, their lutes did silent grow,
And I myself grew faint and blind below
Their vanishing eyes. Then THOU didst come--to be,
Beloved, what they seemed. Their shining fronts,
Their songs, their splendors (better, yet the same,
As river-water hallowed into fonts),
Met in thee, and from out thee overcame
My soul with satisfaction of all wants:
Because God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame.

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

I lived with visions for my company
Instead of men and women, years ago,
And found them gentle mates, nor thought to know
A sweefer music than they played to me.
But soon their trailing purple was not free
Of this world's dust, their lutes did silent grow,
And I myself grew faint and blind below
Their vanishing eyes. Then THOU didst come--to be,
Beloved, what they seemed. Their shining fronts,
Their songs, their splendors (better, yet the same,
As river-water hallowed into fonts),
Met in thee, and from out thee overcame
My soul with satisfaction of all wants:
Because God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame.

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

From The Prometheus Vinctus Of Aeschylus

Great Jove, to whose almighty throne
Both gods and mortals homage pay,
Ne'er may my soul thy power disown,
Thy dread behests ne'er disobey.
Oft shall the sacred victim fall
In sea-girt Ocean's mossy hall;
My voice shall raise no impious strain
'Gainst him who rules the sky and azure main.

How different now thy joyless fate,
Since first Hesione thy bride,
When placed aloft in godlike state,
The blushing beauty by the side,
Thou sat'st, while reverend Ocean smiled,
And mirthful strains the hours beguiled;
The Nymphs and Tritons dances around,
Nor yet thy doom was fix'd, nor Jove relentless frown'd.

by George Gordon Byron.

Sonnet Xxx. To The River Arun

BE the proud Thames of trade the busy mart!
Arun! to thee will other praise belong;
Dear to the lover's and the mourner's heart,
And ever sacred to the sons of song!
Thy banks romantic hopeless Love shall seek,
Where o'er the rocks the mantling bindwith flaunts;
And Sorrow's drooping form and faded cheek
Choose on thy willow'd shore her lonely haunts.
Banks, which inspired thy Otway's plaintive strain!
Wilds,--whose lorn echoes learned the deeper tone
Of Collins' powerful shell! yet once again
Another poet--Hayley is thine own!
Thy classic stream anew shall hear a lay,
Bright as its waves, and various as its way.

by Charlotte Smith.

Sonnet Xxvi. To The River Arun

ON thy wild banks, by frequent torrents worn,
No glittering fanes, or marble domes appear,
Yet shall the mournful muse thy course adorn,
And still to her thy rustic waves be dear.
For with the infant Otway, lingering here,
Of early woes she bade her votary dream,
While thy low murmurs sooth'd his pensive ear
And still the poet--consecrates the stream.
Beneath the oak and birch that fringe thy side,
The first-born violets of the year shall spring;
And in thy hazles, bending o'er the tide,
The earliest nightingale delight to sing:
While kindred spirits, pitying, shall relate
Thy Otway's sorrows, and lament his fate.

by Charlotte Smith.

WHAT though the neutral sea sever us twain?
In the still night your soul in mine I take;
Your eyes, hilarious with passion, wake,
And love's delirium is mine again,
When all your body's warmth swirled in my brain—
Your face uplifted like a pallid lake
Where in my eager lips their thirst could slake,
With deep-sighed, langourous kisses, keener than pain.
Then suddenly through passion's rosy mists
A shudder trickled, like a stream of blood:
In a grim pause we felt and understood.
The everlasting war that was our fate—
The pitiless struggle and primeval hate
Of old implacable antagonists.

by Arthur Henry Adams.

As strong, as deep, as wide as is the sea,
Though by the wind made restless as the wind,
By billows fretted and by rocks confined,
So strong, so deep, so wide my love for thee.
And as the sea; though oft huge waves arise,
So oft that calms can never quite assuage,
So huge that ocean’s whole self seems to rage;
Yet tranquil, deep, beneath the tempest lies:
So my great love for thee lies tranquil, deep,
Forever; though above it passions fierce,
Ambition, hatred, jealousy; like waves
That seem from earth’s core to the sky to leap,
But ocean’s depths can never really pierce;
Hide its great calm, while all the surface raves.

by Francis William Bourdillon.

Sonnet Xxvi: I Lived With Visions

I lived with visions for my company
Instead of men and women, years ago,
And found them gentle mates, nor thought to know
A sweeter music than they played to me.
But soon their trailing purple was not free
Of this world's dust, their lutes did silent grow,
And I myself grew faint and blind below
Their vanishing eyes. Then thou didst come--to be,
Belovèd, what they seemed. Their shining fronts,
Their songs, their splendors (better, yet the same,
As river water hallowed into fonts),
Met in thee, and from out thee overcame
My soul with satisfaction of all wants:
Because God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame.

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Hearken, thou craggy ocean-pyramid,
Give answer by thy voice—the sea-fowls' screams!
When were thy shoulders mantled in huge streams?
When from the sun was thy broad forehead hid?
How long is't since the mighty Power bid
Thee heave to airy sleep from fathom dreams—
Sleep in the lap of thunder or sunbeams—
Or when grey clouds are thy cold coverlid!
Thou answer'st not; for thou art dead asleep.
Thy life is but two dead eternities,
The last in air, the former in the deep!
First with the whales, last with the eagle-skies!
Drowned wast thou till an earthquake made thee steep,
Another cannot wake thy giant-size!

by John Keats.

Sonnet I. To My Brother George

Many the wonders I this day have seen:
The sun, when first he kissed away the tears
That filled the eyes of Morn;—the laurelled peers
Who from the feathery gold of evening lean;—
The ocean with its vastness, its blue green,
Its ships, its rocks, its caves, its hopes, its fears,
Its voice mysterious, which whoso hears
Must think on what will be, and what has been.
E'en now, dear George, while this for you I write,
Cynthia is from her silken curtains peeping
So scantly, that it seems her bridal night,
And she her half-discovered revels keeping.
But what, without the social thought of thee,
Would be the wonders of the sky and sea?

by John Keats.

Sonnet 26 - I Lived With Visions For My Company

XXVI


I lived with visions for my company
Instead of men and women, years ago,
And found them gentle mates, nor thought to know
A sweeter music than they played to me.
But soon their trailing purple was not free
Of this world's dust, their lutes did silent grow,
And I myself grew faint and blind below
Their vanishing eyes. Then THOU didst come—to be,
Beloved, what they seemed. Their shining fronts,
Their songs, their splendors (better, yet the same,
As river-water hallowed into fonts),
Met in thee, and from out thee overcame
My soul with satisfaction of all wants:
Because God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame.

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

To My Brother George

Many the wonders I this day have seen:
The sun, when first he kissed away the tears
That filled the eyes of Morn;—the laurelled peers
Who from the feathery gold of evening lean;—
The ocean with its vastness, its blue green,
Its ships, its rocks, its caves, its hopes, its fears,
Its voice mysterious, which whoso hears
Must think on what will be, and what has been.
E'en now, dear George, while this for you I write,
Cynthia is from her silken curtains peeping
So scantly, that it seems her bridal night,
And she her half-discovered revels keeping.
But what, without the social thought of thee,
Would be the wonders of the sky and sea?

by John Keats.

Sonnet Lxxxiii. The Sea View

THE upland shepherd, as reclined he lies
On the soft turf that clothes the mountain brow,
Marks the bright sea-line mingling with the skies;
Or from his course celestial, sinking slow,
The summer-sun in purple radiance low,
Blaze on the western waters; the wide scene
Magnificent, and tranquil, seems to spread
Even o'er the rustic's breast a joy serene,
When, like dark plague-spots by the demons shed,
Charged deep with death, upon the waves, far seen,
Move the war-freighted ships; and fierce and red,
Flash their destructive fires--The mangled dead
And dying victims then pollute the flood.
Ah, thus man spoils Heaven's glorious works with blood!

by Charlotte Smith.

Sonnet. The Lake And Star

The mountain lake, o'ershadowed by the hills,
May still gaze heavenward on the evening star,
Whose distant light its dark recesses fills,
Though boundless distance must divide them far;
Still may the lake the star's bright image bear,
Still may the star, from its blue ether dome,
Shower down its silver beams across the gloom,
And light the wave that wanders darkly there.
Star of my life! thus do I turn to thee
Amid the shadows that above me roll;
Thus from thy distant sphere thou shinest on me;
Thus does thine image float upon my soul,
Through the wide space that must our lives dissever
Far as the lake and star, ah me! forever.

by Anne Charlotte Lynch Botta.

You strange, astonished-looking, angle-faced,
Dreary-mouthed, gaping wretches of the sea,
Gulping salt-water everlastingly,
Cold-blooded, though with red your blood be graced,
And mute, though dwellers in the roaring waste;
And you, all shapes beside, that fishy be,--
Some round, some flat, some long, all devilry,
Legless, unloving, infamously chaste:--

O scaly, slippery, wet, swift, staring wights,
What is't ye do? What life lead? eh, dull goggles?
How do ye vary your vile days and nights?
How pass your Sundays? Are ye still but joggles
In ceaseless wash? Still nought but gapes, and bites,
And drinks, and stares, diversified with boggles?

by James Henry Leigh Hunt.

To Thomas Moore

My boat is on the shore,
And my bark is on the sea;
But, before I go, Tom Moore,
Here's a double health to thee!

Here's a sigh to those who love me,
And a smile to those who hate;
And, whatever sky's above me,
Here's a heart for every fate.

Though the ocean roar around me,
Yet it still shall bear me on;
Though a desert should surround me,
It hath springs that may be won.

Were't the last drop in the well,
As I gasp'd upon the brink,
Ere my fainting spirit fell,
'Tis to thee that I would drink.

With that water, as this wine,
The libation I would pour
Should be -peace with thine and mine,
And a health to thee, Tom Moore!

by George Gordon Byron.

Upon The Flint In The Water

This flint, time out of mind, has there abode,
Where crystal streams make their continual road.
Yet it abides a flint as much as 'twere
Before it touched the water, or came there
Its hard obdurateness is not abated,
'Tis not at all by water penetrated.
Though water hath a soft'ning virtue in't,
This stone it can't dissolve, for 'tis a flint.
Yea, though it in the water doth remain,
It doth its fiery nature still retain.
If you oppose it with its opposite,
At you, yea, in your face, its fire 'twill spit.

Comparison.

This flint an emblem is of those that lie,
Like stones, under the Word, until they die.
Its crystal streams have not their nature changed,
They are not, from their lusts, by grace estranged.

by John Bunyan.

To Thomas Moore (My Boat Is On The Shore)

I.
My boat is on the shore,
And my bark is on the sea;
But before I go, Tom Moore,
Here's a double health to thee!

II.
Here's a sigh to those who love me,
And a smile to those who hate;
And, whatever sky's above me,
Here's a heart for every fate.

III.
Though the ocean roar around me,
Yet it still shall bear me on;
Though a desert should surround me,
It hath springs that may be won.

IV.
Were't the last drop in the well,
As I gasp'd upon the brink,
Ere my fainting spirit fell
'Tis to thee that I would drink.

V.
With that water, as this wine,
The libation I would pour
Should be - peace with thine and mine,
And a health to thee, Tom Moore.

July 1817.

by George Gordon Byron.

MY brigantine!
Just in thy mould and beauteous in thy form,
Gentle in roll and buoyant on the surge,
Light as the sea-fowl rocking in the storm,
In breeze and gale thy onward course we urge,
My water-queen!

Lady of mine!
More light and swift than thou none thread the sea,
With surer keel or steadier on its path;
We brave each waste of ocean-mystery
And laugh to hear the howling tempest's wrath,
For we are thine!

My brigantine!
Trust to the mystic power that points thy way,
Trust to the eye that pierces from afar,
Trust the red meteors that around thee play,
And, fearless, trust the Sea-Green Lady's Star,
Thou bark divine!

by James Fenimore Cooper.

Smooth to the shelving brink a copious flood
Rolls fair and placid: where collected all,
In one impetuous torrent down the steep
It thundering shoots, and shakes the country round.
At first, an azure sheet, it rushes broad;
Then whitening by degrees, as prone it falls,
And from the loud-resounding rocks below,
Dash'd in a cloud of foam, it sends aloft
A hoary mist, and forms a ceaseless shower.
Nor can the tortured wave here find repose:
But, raging still amid the shaggy rocks,
Now flashes o'er the scatter'd fragments, now
Aslant the hollow channel rapid darts;
And falling fast from gradual slope to slope,
With wild infracted course, and lessen'd roar,
It gains a safer bed, and steals, at last,
Along the mazes of a quiet vale.

by James Thomson.