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Best Famous Beach Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Beach poems. This is a select list of the best famous Beach poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Beach poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of beach poems.

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Written by Walt Whitman |

Song at Sunset

 SPLENDOR of ended day, floating and filling me! 
Hour prophetic—hour resuming the past! 
Inflating my throat—you, divine average! 
You, Earth and Life, till the last ray gleams, I sing.
Open mouth of my Soul, uttering gladness, Eyes of my Soul, seeing perfection, Natural life of me, faithfully praising things; Corroborating forever the triumph of things.
Illustrious every one! Illustrious what we name space—sphere of unnumber’d spirits; Illustrious the mystery of motion, in all beings, even the tiniest insect; Illustrious the attribute of speech—the senses—the body; Illustrious the passing light! Illustrious the pale reflection on the new moon in the western sky! Illustrious whatever I see, or hear, or touch, to the last.
Good in all, In the satisfaction and aplomb of animals, In the annual return of the seasons, In the hilarity of youth, In the strength and flush of manhood, In the grandeur and exquisiteness of old age, In the superb vistas of Death.
Wonderful to depart; Wonderful to be here! The heart, to jet the all-alike and innocent blood! To breathe the air, how delicious! To speak! to walk! to seize something by the hand! To prepare for sleep, for bed—to look on my rose-color’d flesh; To be conscious of my body, so satisfied, so large; To be this incredible God I am; To have gone forth among other Gods—these men and women I love.
Wonderful how I celebrate you and myself! How my thoughts play subtly at the spectacles around! How the clouds pass silently overhead! How the earth darts on and on! and how the sun, moon, stars, dart on and on! How the water sports and sings! (Surely it is alive!) How the trees rise and stand up—with strong trunks—with branches and leaves! (Surely there is something more in each of the tree—some living Soul.
) O amazement of things! even the least particle! O spirituality of things! O strain musical, flowing through ages and continents—now reaching me and America! I take your strong chords—I intersperse them, and cheerfully pass them forward.
I too carol the sun, usher’d, or at noon, or, as now, setting, I too throb to the brain and beauty of the earth, and of all the growths of the earth, I too have felt the resistless call of myself.
As I sail’d down the Mississippi, As I wander’d over the prairies, As I have lived—As I have look’d through my windows, my eyes, As I went forth in the morning—As I beheld the light breaking in the east; As I bathed on the beach of the Eastern Sea, and again on the beach of the Western Sea; As I roam’d the streets of inland Chicago—whatever streets I have roam’d; Or cities, or silent woods, or peace, or even amid the sights of war; Wherever I have been, I have charged myself with contentment and triumph.
I sing the Equalities, modern or old, I sing the endless finales of things; I say Nature continues—Glory continues; I praise with electric voice; For I do not see one imperfection in the universe; And I do not see one cause or result lamentable at last in the universe.
O setting sun! though the time has come, I still warble under you, if none else does, unmitigated adoration.

Written by Lewis Carroll |

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The sun was shining on the sea,
   Shining with all his might;
He did his very best to make
   The billows smooth and bright—
And this was odd, because it was
   The middle of the night.
The moon was shining sulkily, Because she thought the sun Had got no business to be there After the day was done— "It's very rude of him," she said, "To come and spoil the fun!" The sea was wet as wet could be, The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because No cloud was in the sky; No birds were flying overhead— There were no birds to fly.
The Walrus and the Carpenter Were walking close at hand; They wept like anything to see Such quantities of sand.
"If this were only cleared away," They said, "it would be grand!" "If seven maids with seven mops Swept it for half a year, Do you suppose," the Walrus said, "That they could get it clear?" "I doubt it," said the Carpenter, And shed a bitter tear.
"O Oysters, come and walk with us!" The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk, Along the briny beach; We cannot do with more than four, To give a hand to each.
" The eldest Oyster looked at him, But never a word he said; The eldest Oyster winked his eye, And shook his heavy head— Meaning to say he did not choose To leave the oyster-bed.
But four young Oysters hurried up, All eager for the treat; Their coats were brushed, their faces washed, Their shoes were clean and neat— And this was odd, because, you know, They hadn't any feet.
Four other Oysters followed them, And yet another four; And thick and fast they came at last, And more, and more, and more— All hopping through the frothy waves, And scrambling to the shore.
The Walrus and the Carpenter Walked on a mile or so, And then they rested on a rock Conveniently low; And all the little Oysters stood And waited in a row.
"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax— And cabbages—and kings— And why the sea is boiling hot— And whether pigs have wings.
" "But wait a bit," the Oysters cried, "Before we have our chat; For some of us are out of breath, And all of us are fat!" "No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.
"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said, "Is what we chiefly need; Pepper and vinegar besides Are very good indeed— Now if you're ready, Oysters dear, We can begin to feed.
" "But not on us!" the Oysters cried, Turning a little blue.
"After such kindness, that would be A dismal thing to do!" "The night is fine," the Walrus said, "Do you admire the view?" "It was so kind of you to come! And you are very nice!" The Carpenter said nothing but "Cut us another slice.
I wish you were not quite so deaf— I've had to ask you twice!" "It seems a shame," the Walrus said, "To play them such a trick, After we've brought them out so far, And made them trot so quick!" The Carpenter said nothing but "The butter's spread too thick!" "I weep for you," the Walrus said; "I deeply sympathize.
" With sobs and tears he sorted out Those of the largest size, Holding his pocket-handkerchief Before his streaming eyes.
"O Oysters," said the Carpenter, "You've had a pleasant run! Shall we be trotting home again?" But answer came there none— And this was scarcely odd, because They'd eaten every one.

Written by Gwendolyn Brooks |

The Lovers of the Poor

 arrive.
The Ladies from the Ladies' Betterment League Arrive in the afternoon, the late light slanting In diluted gold bars across the boulevard brag Of proud, seamed faces with mercy and murder hinting Here, there, interrupting, all deep and debonair, The pink paint on the innocence of fear; Walk in a gingerly manner up the hall.
Cutting with knives served by their softest care, Served by their love, so barbarously fair.
Whose mothers taught: You'd better not be cruel! You had better not throw stones upon the wrens! Herein they kiss and coddle and assault Anew and dearly in the innocence With which they baffle nature.
Who are full, Sleek, tender-clad, fit, fiftyish, a-glow, all Sweetly abortive, hinting at fat fruit, Judge it high time that fiftyish fingers felt Beneath the lovelier planes of enterprise.
To resurrect.
To moisten with milky chill.
To be a random hitching post or plush.
To be, for wet eyes, random and handy hem.
Their guild is giving money to the poor.
The worthy poor.
The very very worthy And beautiful poor.
Perhaps just not too swarthy? Perhaps just not too dirty nor too dim Nor--passionate.
In truth, what they could wish Is--something less than derelict or dull.
Not staunch enough to stab, though, gaze for gaze! God shield them sharply from the beggar-bold! The noxious needy ones whose battle's bald Nonetheless for being voiceless, hits one down.
But it's all so bad! and entirely too much for them.
The stench; the urine, cabbage, and dead beans, Dead porridges of assorted dusty grains, The old smoke, heavy diapers, and, they're told, Something called chitterlings.
The darkness.
Drawn Darkness, or dirty light.
The soil that stirs.
The soil that looks the soil of centuries.
And for that matter the general oldness.
Old Wood.
Old marble.
Old tile.
Old old old.
Note homekind Oldness! Not Lake Forest, Glencoe.
Nothing is sturdy, nothing is majestic, There is no quiet drama, no rubbed glaze, no Unkillable infirmity of such A tasteful turn as lately they have left, Glencoe, Lake Forest, and to which their cars Must presently restore them.
When they're done With dullards and distortions of this fistic Patience of the poor and put-upon.
They've never seen such a make-do-ness as Newspaper rugs before! In this, this "flat," Their hostess is gathering up the oozed, the rich Rugs of the morning (tattered! the bespattered .
.
.
), Readies to spread clean rugs for afternoon.
Here is a scene for you.
The Ladies look, In horror, behind a substantial citizeness Whose trains clank out across her swollen heart.
Who, arms akimbo, almost fills a door.
All tumbling children, quilts dragged to the floor And tortured thereover, potato peelings, soft- Eyed kitten, hunched-up, haggard, to-be-hurt.
Their League is allotting largesse to the Lost.
But to put their clean, their pretty money, to put Their money collected from delicate rose-fingers Tipped with their hundred flawless rose-nails seems .
.
.
They own Spode, Lowestoft, candelabra, Mantels, and hostess gowns, and sunburst clocks, Turtle soup, Chippendale, red satin "hangings," Aubussons and Hattie Carnegie.
They Winter In Palm Beach; cross the Water in June; attend, When suitable, the nice Art Institute; Buy the right books in the best bindings; saunter On Michigan, Easter mornings, in sun or wind.
Oh Squalor! This sick four-story hulk, this fibre With fissures everywhere! Why, what are bringings Of loathe-love largesse? What shall peril hungers So old old, what shall flatter the desolate? Tin can, blocked fire escape and chitterling And swaggering seeking youth and the puzzled wreckage Of the middle passage, and urine and stale shames And, again, the porridges of the underslung And children children children.
Heavens! That Was a rat, surely, off there, in the shadows? Long And long-tailed? Gray? The Ladies from the Ladies' Betterment League agree it will be better To achieve the outer air that rights and steadies, To hie to a house that does not holler, to ring Bells elsetime, better presently to cater To no more Possibilities, to get Away.
Perhaps the money can be posted.
Perhaps they two may choose another Slum! Some serious sooty half-unhappy home!-- Where loathe-lover likelier may be invested.
Keeping their scented bodies in the center Of the hall as they walk down the hysterical hall, They allow their lovely skirts to graze no wall, Are off at what they manage of a canter, And, resuming all the clues of what they were, Try to avoid inhaling the laden air.

Written by Maya Angelou |

Million Man March Poem

The night has been long,
The wound has been deep,
The pit has been dark,
And the walls have been steep.
Under a dead blue sky on a distant beach, I was dragged by my braids just beyond your reach.
Your hands were tied, your mouth was bound, You couldn't even call out my name.
You were helpless and so was I, But unfortunately throughout history You've worn a badge of shame.
I say, the night has been long, The wound has been deep, The pit has been dark And the walls have been steep.
But today, voices of old spirit sound Speak to us in words profound, Across the years, across the centuries, Across the oceans, and across the seas.
They say, draw near to one another, Save your race.
You have been paid for in a distant place, The old ones remind us that slavery's chains Have paid for our freedom again and again.
The night has been long, The pit has been deep, The night has been dark, And the walls have been steep.
The hells we have lived through and live through still, Have sharpened our senses and toughened our will.
The night has been long.
This morning I look through your anguish Right down to your soul.
I know that with each other we can make ourselves whole.
I look through the posture and past your disguise, And see your love for family in your big brown eyes.
I say, clap hands and let's come together in this meeting ground, I say, clap hands and let's deal with each other with love, I say, clap hands and let us get from the low road of indifference, Clap hands, let us come together and reveal our hearts, Let us come together and revise our spirits, Let us come together and cleanse our souls, Clap hands, let's leave the preening And stop impostering our own history.
Clap hands, call the spirits back from the ledge, Clap hands, let us invite joy into our conversation, Courtesy into our bedrooms, Gentleness into our kitchen, Care into our nursery.
The ancestors remind us, despite the history of pain We are a going-on people who will rise again.
And still we rise.
Poem read at the Million Man March

Written by Raymond Carver |

This Morning

 This morning was something.
A little snow lay on the ground.
The sun floated in a clear blue sky.
The sea was blue, and blue-green, as far as the eye could see.
Scarcely a ripple.
Calm.
I dressed and went for a walk -- determined not to return until I took in what Nature had to offer.
I passed close to some old, bent-over trees.
Crossed a field strewn with rocks where snow had drifted.
Kept going until I reached the bluff.
Where I gazed at the sea, and the sky, and the gulls wheeling over the white beach far below.
All lovely.
All bathed in a pure cold light.
But, as usual, my thoughts began to wander.
I had to will myself to see what I was seeing and nothing else.
I had to tell myself this is what mattered, not the other.
(And I did see it, for a minute or two!) For a minute or two it crowded out the usual musings on what was right, and what was wrong -- duty, tender memories, thoughts of death, how I should treat with my former wife.
All the things I hoped would go away this morning.
The stuff I live with every day.
What I've trampled on in order to stay alive.
But for a minute or two I did forget myself and everything else.
I know I did.
For when I turned back i didn't know where I was.
Until some birds rose up from the gnarled trees.
And flew in the direction I needed to be going.

Written by Matthew Arnold |

Dover Beach

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair Upon the straits; on the French coast the light Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand, Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air! Only, from the long line of spray Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land, Listen! you hear the grating roar Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, At their return, up the high strand, Begin, and cease, and then again begin, With tremulous cadence slow, and bring The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago Heard it on the {AE}gean, and it brought Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow Of human misery; we Find also in the sound a thought, Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, Retreating, to the breath Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true To one another! for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Written by Robert Frost |

Pauls Wife

 To drive Paul out of any lumber camp
All that was needed was to say to him,
"How is the wife, Paul?"--and he'd disappear.
Some said it was because be bad no wife, And hated to be twitted on the subject; Others because he'd come within a day Or so of having one, and then been Jilted; Others because he'd had one once, a good one, Who'd run away with someone else and left him; And others still because he had one now He only had to be reminded of-- He was all duty to her in a minute: He had to run right off to look her up, As if to say, "That's so, how is my wife? I hope she isn't getting into mischief.
" No one was anxious to get rid of Paul.
He'd been the hero of the mountain camps Ever since, just to show them, he bad slipped The bark of a whole tamarack off whole As clean as boys do off a willow twig To make a willow whistle on a Sunday April by subsiding meadow brooks.
They seemed to ask him just to see him go, "How is the wife, Paul?" and he always went.
He never stopped to murder anyone Who asked the question.
He just disappeared-- Nobody knew in what direction, Although it wasn't usually long Before they beard of him in some new camp, The same Paul at the same old feats of logging.
The question everywhere was why should Paul Object to being asked a civil question-- A man you could say almost anything to Short of a fighting word.
You have the answers.
And there was one more not so fair to Paul: That Paul had married a wife not his equal.
Paul was ashamed of her.
To match a hero She would have had to be a heroine; Instead of which she was some half-breed squaw.
But if the story Murphy told was true, She wasn't anything to be ashamed of.
You know Paul could do wonders.
Everyone's Heard how he thrashed the horses on a load That wouldn't budge, until they simply stretched Their rawhide harness from the load to camp.
Paul told the boss the load would be all right, "The sun will bring your load in"--and it did-- By shrinking the rawhide to natural length.
That's what is called a stretcher.
But I guess The one about his jumping so's to land With both his feet at once against the ceiling, And then land safely right side up again, Back on the floor, is fact or pretty near fact.
Well, this is such a yarn.
Paul sawed his wife Out of a white-pine log.
Murphy was there And, as you might say, saw the lady born.
Paul worked at anything in lumbering.
He'd been bard at it taking boards away For--I forget--the last ambitious sawyer To want to find out if he couldn't pile The lumber on Paul till Paul begged for mercy.
They'd sliced the first slab off a big butt log, And the sawyer had slammed the carriage back To slam end-on again against the saw teeth.
To judge them by the way they caught themselves When they saw what had happened to the log, They must have had a guilty expectation Something was going to go with their slambanging.
Something bad left a broad black streak of grease On the new wood the whole length of the log Except, perhaps, a foot at either end.
But when Paul put his finger in the grease, It wasn't grease at all, but a long slot.
The log was hollow.
They were sawing pine.
"First time I ever saw a hollow pine.
That comes of having Paul around the place.
Take it to bell for me," the sawyer said.
Everyone had to have a look at it And tell Paul what he ought to do about it.
(They treated it as his.
) "You take a jackknife, And spread the opening, and you've got a dugout All dug to go a-fishing in.
" To Paul The hollow looked too sound and clean and empty Ever to have housed birds or beasts or bees.
There was no entrance for them to get in by.
It looked to him like some new kind of hollow He thought he'd better take his jackknife to.
So after work that evening be came back And let enough light into it by cutting To see if it was empty.
He made out in there A slender length of pith, or was it pith? It might have been the skin a snake had cast And left stood up on end inside the tree The hundred years the tree must have been growing.
More cutting and he bad this in both hands, And looking from it to the pond nearby, Paul wondered how it would respond to water.
Not a breeze stirred, but just the breath of air He made in walking slowly to the beach Blew it once off his hands and almost broke it.
He laid it at the edge, where it could drink.
At the first drink it rustled and grew limp.
At the next drink it grew invisible.
Paul dragged the shallows for it with his fingers, And thought it must have melted.
It was gone.
And then beyond the open water, dim with midges, Where the log drive lay pressed against the boom, It slowly rose a person, rose a girl, Her wet hair heavy on her like a helmet, Who, leaning on a log, looked back at Paul.
And that made Paul in turn look back To see if it was anyone behind him That she was looking at instead of him.
(Murphy had been there watching all the time, But from a shed where neither of them could see him.
) There was a moment of suspense in birth When the girl seemed too waterlogged to live, Before she caught her first breath with a gasp And laughed.
Then she climbed slowly to her feet, And walked off, talking to herself or Paul, Across the logs like backs of alligators, Paul taking after her around the pond.
Next evening Murphy and some other fellows Got drunk, and tracked the pair up Catamount, From the bare top of which there is a view TO other hills across a kettle valley.
And there, well after dark, let Murphy tell it, They saw Paul and his creature keeping house.
It was the only glimpse that anyone Has had of Paul and her since Murphy saw them Falling in love across the twilight millpond.
More than a mile across the wilderness They sat together halfway up a cliff In a small niche let into it, the girl Brightly, as if a star played on the place, Paul darkly, like her shadow.
All the light Was from the girl herself, though, not from a star, As was apparent from what happened next.
All those great ruffians put their throats together, And let out a loud yell, and threw a bottle, As a brute tribute of respect to beauty.
Of course the bottle fell short by a mile, But the shout reached the girl and put her light out.
She went out like a firefly, and that was all.
So there were witnesses that Paul was married And not to anyone to be ashamed of Everyone had been wrong in judging Paul.
Murphy told me Paul put on all those airs About his wife to keep her to himself.
Paul was what's called a terrible possessor.
Owning a wife with him meant owning her.
She wasn't anybody else's business, Either to praise her or much as name her, And he'd thank people not to think of her.
Murphy's idea was that a man like Paul Wouldn't be spoken to about a wife In any way the world knew how to speak.

Written by Mary Darby Robinson |

The Alien Boy

 'Twas on a Mountain, near the Western Main
An ALIEN dwelt.
A solitary Hut Built on a jutting crag, o'erhung with weeds, Mark'd the poor Exile's home.
Full ten long years The melancholy wretch had liv'd unseen By all, save HENRY, a lov'd, little Son The partner of his sorrows.
On the day When Persecution, in the sainted guise Of Liberty, spread wide its venom'd pow'r, The brave, Saint HUBERT, fled his Lordly home, And, with his baby Son, the mountain sought.
Resolv'd to cherish in his bleeding breast The secret of his birth, Ah! birth too high For his now humbled state, from infancy He taught him, labour's task: He bade him chear The dreary day of cold adversity By patience and by toil.
The Summer morn Shone on the pillow of his rushy bed; The noontide, sultry hour, he fearless past On the shagg'd eminence; while the young Kid Skipp'd, to the cadence of his minstrelsy.
At night young HENRY trimm'd the faggot fire While oft, Saint HUBERT, wove the ample net To snare the finny victim.
Oft they sang And talk'd, while sullenly the waves would sound Dashing the sandy shore.
Saint HUBERT'S eyes Would swim in tears of fondness, mix'd with joy, When he observ'd the op'ning harvest rich Of promis'd intellect, which HENRY'S soul, Whate'er the subject of their talk, display'd.
Oft, the bold Youth, in question intricate, Would seek to know the story of his birth; Oft ask, who bore him: and with curious skill Enquire, why he, and only one beside, Peopled the desart mountain ? Still his Sire Was slow of answer, and, in words obscure, Varied the conversation.
Still the mind Of HENRY ponder'd; for, in their lone hut, A daily journal would Saint HUBERT make Of his long banishment: and sometimes speak Of Friends forsaken, Kindred, massacred;-- Proud mansions, rich domains, and joyous scenes For ever faded,--lost! One winter time, 'Twas on the Eve of Christmas, the shrill blast Swept o'er the stormy main.
The boiling foam Rose to an altitude so fierce and strong That their low hovel totter'd.
Oft they stole To the rock's margin, and with fearful eyes Mark'd the vex'd deep, as the slow rising moon Gleam'd on the world of waters.
'Twas a scene Would make a Stoic shudder! For, amid The wavy mountains, they beheld, alone , A LITTLE BOAT, now scarcely visible; And now not seen at all; or, like a buoy, Bounding, and buffetting, to reach the shore! Now the full Moon, in crimson lustre shone Upon the outstretch'd Ocean.
The black clouds Flew stiffly on, the wild blast following, And, as they flew, dimming the angry main With shadows horrible ! Still, the small boat Struggled amid the waves, a sombre speck Upon the wide domain of howling Death! Saint HUBERT sigh'd ! while HENRY'S speaking eye Alternately the stormy scene survey'd And his low hovel's safety.
So past on The hour of midnight,--and, since first they knew The solitary scene, no midnight hour E'er seem'd so long and weary.
While they stood, Their hands fast link'd together, and their eyes Fix'd on the troublous Ocean, suddenly The breakers, bounding on the rocky shore, Left the small wreck; and crawling on the side Of the rude crag,--a HUMAN FORM was seen! And now he climb'd the foam-wash'd precipice, And now the slip'ry weeds gave way, while he Descended to the sands: The moon rose high-- The wild blast paus'd, and the poor shipwreck'd Man Look'd round aghast, when on the frowning steep He marked the lonely exiles.
Now he call'd But he was feeble, and his voice was lost Amid the din of mingling sounds that rose From the wild scene of clamour.
Down the steep Saint HUBRET hurried, boldly venturous, Catching the slimy weeds, from point to point, And unappall'd by peril.
At the foot Of the rude rock, the fainting mariner Seiz'd on his outstretch'd arm; impatient, wild, With transport exquisite ! But ere they heard The blest exchange of sounds articulate, A furious billow, rolling on the steep, Engulph'd them in Oblivion! On the rock Young HENRY stood; with palpitating heart, And fear-struck, e'en to madness ! Now he call'd, Louder and louder, as the shrill blast blew; But, mid the elemental strife of sounds, No human voice gave answer ! The clear moon No longer quiver'd on the curling main, But, mist-encircled, shed a blunted light, Enough to shew all things that mov'd around, Dreadful, but indistinctly ! The black weeds Wav'd, as the night-blast swept them; and along The rocky shore the breakers, sounding low Seem'd like the whisp'ring of a million souls Beneath the green-deep mourning.
Four long hours The lorn Boy listen'd ! four long tedious hours Pass'd wearily away, when, in the East The grey beam coldly glimmer'd.
All alone Young HENRY stood aghast : his Eye wide fix'd; While his dark locks, uplifted by the storm Uncover'd met its fury.
On his cheek Despair sate terrible ! For, mid the woes, Of poverty and toil, he had not known, Till then, the horror-giving chearless hour Of TOTAL SOLITUDE! He spoke--he groan'd, But no responsive voice, no kindred tone Broke the dread pause: For now the storm had ceas'd, And the bright Sun-beams glitter'd on the breast Of the green placid Ocean.
To his Hut The lorn Boy hasten'd; there the rushy couch, The pillow still indented, met his gaze And fix'd his eye in madness.
--From that hour A maniac wild, the Alien Boy has been; His garb with sea-weeds fring'd, and his wan cheek The tablet of his mind, disorder'd, chang'd, Fading, and worn with care.
And if, by chance, A Sea-beat wand'rer from the outstretch'd main Views the lone Exile, and with gen'rous zeal Hastes to the sandy beach, he suddenly Darts 'mid the cavern'd cliffs, and leaves pursuit To track him, where no footsteps but his own, Have e'er been known to venture ! YET HE LIVES A melancholy proof that Man may bear All the rude storms of Fate, and still suspire By the wide world forgotten!

Written by Mary Darby Robinson |

The Negro Girl

 I.
Dark was the dawn, and o'er the deep The boist'rous whirlwinds blew; The Sea-bird wheel'd its circling sweep, And all was drear to view-- When on the beach that binds the western shore The love-lorn ZELMA stood, list'ning the tempest's roar.
II.
Her eager Eyes beheld the main, While on her DRACO dear She madly call'd, but call'd in vain, No sound could DRACO hear, Save the shrill yelling of the fateful blast, While ev'ry Seaman's heart, quick shudder'd as it past.
III.
White were the billows, wide display'd The clouds were black and low; The Bittern shriek'd, a gliding shade Seem'd o'er the waves to go ! The livid flash illum'd the clam'rous main, While ZELMA pour'd, unmark'd, her melancholy strain.
IV.
"Be still!" she cried, "loud tempest cease! "O ! spare the gallant souls: "The thunder rolls--the winds increase-- "The Sea, like mountains, rolls! "While, from the deck, the storm worn victims leap, "And o'er their struggling limbs, the furious billows sweep.
V.
"O! barb'rous Pow'r! relentless Fate! "Does Heav'n's high will decree "That some should sleep on beds of state,-- "Some, in the roaring Sea ? "Some, nurs'd in splendour, deal Oppression's blow, "While worth and DRACO pine--in Slavery and woe! VI.
"Yon Vessel oft has plough'd the main "With human traffic fraught; "Its cargo,--our dark Sons of pain-- "For worldly treasure bought ! "What had they done?--O Nature tell me why-- "Is taunting scorn the lot, of thy dark progeny? VII.
"Thou gav'st, in thy caprice, the Soul "Peculiarly enshrin'd; "Nor from the ebon Casket stole "The Jewel of the mind! "Then wherefore let the suff'ring Negro's breast "Bow to his fellow, MAN, in brighter colours drest.
VIII.
"Is it the dim and glossy hue "That marks him for despair?-- "While men with blood their hands embrue, "And mock the wretch's pray'r? "Shall guiltless Slaves the Scourge of tyrants feel, "And, e'en before their GOD ! unheard, unpitied kneel.
IX.
"Could the proud rulers of the land "Our Sable race behold; "Some bow'd by torture's Giant hand "And others, basely sold ! "Then would they pity Slaves, and cry, with shame, "Whate'er their TINTS may be, their SOULS are still the same! X.
"Why seek to mock the Ethiop's face? "Why goad our hapless kind? "Can features alienate the race-- "Is there no kindred mind? "Does not the cheek which vaunts the roseate hue "Oft blush for crimes, that Ethiops never knew? XI.
"Behold ! the angry waves conspire "To check the barb'rous toil! "While wounded Nature's vengeful ire-- "Roars, round this trembling Isle! "And hark ! her voice re-echoes in the wind-- "Man was not form'd by Heav'n, to trample on his kind! XII.
"Torn from my Mother's aching breast, "My Tyrant sought my love-- "But, in the Grave shall ZELMA rest, "E'er she will faithless prove-- "No DRACO!--Thy companion I will be "To that celestial realm, where Negros shall be free! XIII.
"The Tyrant WHITE MAN taught my mind-- "The letter'd page to trace;-- "He taught me in the Soul to find "No tint, as in the face: "He bade my Reason, blossom like the tree-- "But fond affection gave, the ripen'd fruits to thee.
XIV.
"With jealous rage he mark'd my love "He sent thee far away;-- "And prison'd in the plantain grove-- "Poor ZELMA pass'd the day-- "But ere the moon rose high above the main, "ZELMA, and Love contriv'd, to break the Tyrant's chain.
XV.
"Swift, o'er the plain of burning Sand "My course I bent to thee; "And soon I reach'd the billowy strand "Which bounds the stormy Sea.
-- "DRACO! my Love! Oh yet, thy ZELMA'S soul "Springs ardently to thee,--impatient of controul.
XVI.
"Again the lightning flashes white-- "The rattling cords among! "Now, by the transient vivid light, "I mark the frantic throng! "Now up the tatter'd shrouds my DRACO flies-- While o'er the plunging prow, the curling billows rise.
XVII.
"The topmast falls--three shackled slaves-- "Cling to the Vessel's side! "Now lost amid the madd'ning waves-- "Now on the mast they ride-- "See ! on the forecastle my DRACO stands "And now he waves his chain, now clasps his bleeding hands.
XVIII.
"Why, cruel WHITE-MAN! when away "My sable Love was torn, "Why did you let poor ZELMA stay, On Afric's sands to mourn? "No ! ZELMA is not left, for she will prove "In the deep troubled main, her fond--her faithful LOVE.
" XIX.
The lab'ring Ship was now a wreck, The shrouds were flutt'ring wide! The rudder gone, the lofty deck Was rock'd from side to side-- Poor ZELMA'S eyes now dropp'd their last big tear, While, from her tawny cheek, the blood recoil'd with fear.
XX.
Now frantic, on the sands she roam'd, Now shrieking stop'd to view Where high the liquid mountains foam'd, Around the exhausted crew-- 'Till, from the deck, her DRACO'S well known form Sprung mid the yawning waves, and buffetted the Storm.
XXI.
Long, on the swelling surge sustain'd Brave DRACO sought the shore, Watch'd the dark Maid, but ne'er complain'd, Then sunk, to gaze no more! Poor ZELMA saw him buried by the wave-- And, with her heart's true Love, plung'd in a wat'ry grave.

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |

The Fire of Drift-Wood

We sat within the farm-house old,
  Whose windows, looking o'er the bay,
Gave to the sea-breeze damp and cold,
  An easy entrance, night and day.
Not far away we saw the port, The strange, old-fashioned, silent town, The lighthouse, the dismantled fort, The wooden houses, quaint and brown.
We sat and talked until the night, Descending, filled the little room; Our faces faded from the sight, Our voices only broke the gloom.
We spake of many a vanished scene, Of what we once had thought and said, Of what had been, and might have been, And who was changed, and who was dead; And all that fills the hearts of friends, When first they feel, with secret pain, Their lives thenceforth have separate ends, And never can be one again; The first slight swerving of the heart, That words are powerless to express, And leave it still unsaid in part, Or say it in too great excess.
The very tones in which we spake Had something strange, I could but mark; The leaves of memory seemed to make A mournful rustling in the dark.
Oft died the words upon our lips, As suddenly, from out the fire Built of the wreck of stranded ships, The flames would leap and then expire.
And, as their splendor flashed and failed, We thought of wrecks upon the main, Of ships dismasted, that were hailed And sent no answer back again.
The windows, rattling in their frames, The ocean, roaring up the beach, The gusty blast, the bickering flames, All mingled vaguely in our speech; Until they made themselves a part Of fancies floating through the brain, The long-lost ventures of the heart, That send no answers back again.
O flames that glowed! O hearts that yearned! They were indeed too much akin, The drift-wood fire without that burned, The thoughts that burned and glowed within.

Written by Walt Whitman |

Miracles

 WHY! who makes much of a miracle? 
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles, 
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan, 
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky, 
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods, 
Or talk by day with any one I love—or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love, 
Or sit at table at dinner with my mother, 
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car, 
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields, 
Or birds—or the wonderfulness of insects in the air, 
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down—or of stars shining so quiet and bright, 
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new moon in spring; 
Or whether I go among those I like best, and that like me best—mechanics, boatmen,
 farmers,
Or among the savans—or to the soiree—or to the opera, 
Or stand a long while looking at the movements of machinery, 
Or behold children at their sports, 
Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or the perfect old woman, 
Or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to burial,
Or my own eyes and figure in the glass; 
These, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles, 
The whole referring—yet each distinct, and in its place.
To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle, Every cubic inch of space is a miracle, Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same, Every foot of the interior swarms with the same; Every spear of grass—the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women, and all that concerns them, All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.
To me the sea is a continual miracle; The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the ships, with men in them, What stranger miracles are there?

Written by William Topaz McGonagall |

A Tale of the Sea

 A pathetic tale of the sea I will unfold,
Enough to make one's blood run cold;
Concerning four fishermen cast adrift in a dory.
As I've been told I'll relate the story.
T'was on the 8th April on the afternoon of that day That the village of Louisburg was thrown into a wild state or dismay, And the villagers flew to the beach in a state of wild uproar And in a dory they found four men were cast ashore.
Then the villagers, in surprise assembled about the dory, And they found that the bottom of the boat was gory; Then their hearts were seized with sudden dread, when they discovered that two of the men were dead.
And the two survivors were exhausted from exposure, hunger, and cold, Which used the spectators to shudder when them they did behold; And with hunger the poor men couldn't stand on their feet, They felt so weakly on their legs for want of meat.
They were carried to a boarding-house without delay, But those that were looking on were stricken with dismay, When the remains of James and Angus McDonald were found in the boat, Likewise three pieces or flesh in a pool or blood afloat.
Angus McDonald's right arm was missing from the elbow, and the throat was cut in a sickening manner which filled the villagers hearts with woe, Especially when they saw two pieces of flesh had been cut from each thigh, 'Twas then the kind-hearted villagers did murmur and sigh.
Angus McDonald must have felt the pangs of hunger before he did try to cut two pieces of fiesh from James McDonald's thigh, But, Oh heaven! the pangs of hunger are very hard to thole, And anything that's eatable is precious unto an hungry soul.
Alas it is most pitiful and horrible to think That with hunger christians will each other's blood drink And eat each other's flesh to save themselves from starvation; But the pangs or hunger makes them mad, and drives them to desperation.
An old American soldier that had passed through the Civil War, Declared the scene surpassed anything he's seen by far, And at the sight, the crowd in horror turned away, which no doubt they will remember for many a day.
Colin Chisholm, one of the survivors was looking very pale, Stretched on a sofa at the boarding-house, making his wail: Poor fellow! his feet was greatly swollen, and with a melancholy air, He gave the following account of the distressing affair: We belonged to the American fishing schooner named "Cicely", And our captain was a brave man, called McKenzie; And the vessel had fourteen hands altogether And during the passage we had favourable weather.
'Twas on March the 17th we sailed from Gloucester on the Wednesday And all our hearts felt buoyant and gay; And we arrived on the Western banks on the succeeding Tuesday, While the time unto us seemed to pass merrily away.
About eight O'clock in the morning, we left the vessel in a dory, And I hope all kind christians will take heed to my story; Well, while we were at our work, the sky began to frown, And with a dense fog we were suddenly shut down Then we hunted and shouted, and every nerve did strain, Thinking to find our schooner but, alas! it was all in vain: Because the thick fog hid the vessel from our view, And to keep ourselves warm we closely to each other drew.
We had not one drop of water , nor provisions of any kind, Which, alas soon began to tell on our mind; Especially upon James McDonald who was very thinly clad, And with the cold and hunger he felt almost mad.
And looking from the stern where he was lying, he said Good bye, mates, Oh! I am dying! Poor fellow we kept his body thinking the rest of us would be saved, Then, with hunger, Angus McDonald began to cry and madly raved.
And he cried, Oh, God! send us some kind of meat, Because I'm resolved to have something to eat; Oh! do not let us starve on the briny flood Or else I will drink of poor Jim's blood.
Then he suddenly seized his knife and cut off poor Jim's arm, Not thinking in his madness he'd done any harm; Then poor Jim's blood he did drink and his flesh did eat, Declaring that the blood tasted like cream, and was a treat.
Then he asked me to taste it, saying It was good without doubt, Then I tasted it, but in disgust I instantly spat it out; Saying, if I was to die within an hour on the briny flood, I would neither eat the flesh nor drink the blood.
Then in the afternoon again he turned to me, Saying, I'm going to cut Jim's throat for more blood d'ye see; Then I begged of him, for God's sake not to cut the throat of poor Jim, But he cried, Ha! ha! to save my own life I consider it no sin.
I tried to prevent him but he struck me without dismay And cut poor Jim's throat in defiance of me, or all I could say, Also a piece of flesh from each thigh, and began to eat away, But poor fellow he sickened about noon, and died on the Sunday.
Now it is all over and I will thank all my life, Who has preserved me and my mate, McEachern, in the midst of danger and strife; And I hope that all landsmen of low and high degree, Will think of the hardships of poor mariners while at sea.

Written by Larry Levis |

The Widening Spell Of Leaves

 --The Carpathian Frontier, October, 1968
 --for my brother

Once, in a foreign country, I was suddenly ill.
I was driving south toward a large city famous For so little it had a replica, in concrete, In two-thirds scale, of the Arc de Triomphe stuck In the midst of traffic, & obstructing it.
But the city was hours away, beyond the hills Shaped like the bodies of sleeping women.
Often I had to slow down for herds of goats Or cattle milling on those narrow roads, & for The narrower, lost, stone streets of villages I passed through.
The pains in my stomach had grown Gradually sharper & more frequent as the day Wore on, & now a fever had set up house.
In the villages there wasn't much point in asking Anyone for help.
In those places, where tanks Were bivouacked in shade on their way back From some routine exercise along The Danube, even food was scarce that year.
And the languages shifted for no clear reason From two hard quarries of Slavic into German, Then to a shred of Latin spliced with oohs And hisses.
Even when I tried the simplest phrases, The peasants passing over those uneven stones Paused just long enough to look up once, Uncomprehendingly.
Then they turned Quickly away, vanishing quietly into that Moment, like bark chips whirled downriver.
It was autumn.
Beyond each village the wind Threw gusts of yellowing leaves across the road.
The goats I passed were thin, gray; their hind legs, Caked with dried shit, seesawed along-- Not even mild contempt in their expressionless, Pale eyes, & their brays like the scraping of metal.
Except for one village that had a kind Of museum where I stopped to rest, & saw A dead Scythian soldier under glass, Turning to dust while holding a small sword At attention forever, there wasn't much to look at.
Wind, leaves, goats, the higher passes Locked in stone, the peasants with their fate Embroidering a stillness into them, And a spell over all things in that landscape, Like .
.
.
That was the trouble; it couldn't be Compared to anything else, not even the sleep Of some asylum at a wood's edge with the sound Of a pond's spillway beside it.
But as each cramp Grew worse & lasted longer than the one before, It was hard to keep myself aloof from the threadbare World walking on that road.
After all, Even as they moved, the peasants, the herds of goats And cattle, the spiralling leaves, at least were part Of that spell, that stillness.
After a while, The villages grew even poorer, then thinned out, Then vanished entirely.
An hour later, There were no longer even the goats, only wind, Then more & more leaves blown over the road, sometimes Covering it completely for a second.
And yet, except for a random oak or some brush Writhing out of the ravine I drove beside, The trees had thinned into rock, into large, Tough blonde rosettes of fading pasture grass.
Then that gave out in a bare plateau.
.
.
.
And then, Easing the Dacia down a winding grade In second gear, rounding a long, funneled curve-- In a complete stillness of yellow leaves filling A wide field--like something thoughtlessly, Mistakenly erased, the road simply ended.
I stopped the car.
There was no wind now.
I expected that, & though I was sick & lost, I wasn't afraid.
I should have been afraid.
To this day I don't know why I wasn't.
I could hear time cease, the field quietly widen.
I could feel the spreading stillness of the place Moving like something I'd witnessed as a child, Like the ancient, armored leisure of some reptile Gliding, gray-yellow, into the slightly tepid, Unidentical gray-brown stillness of the water-- Something blank & unresponsive in its tough, Pimpled skin--seen only a moment, then unseen As it submerged to rest on mud, or glided just Beneath the lustreless, calm yellow leaves That clustered along a log, or floated there In broken ringlets, held by a gray froth On the opaque, unbroken surface of the pond, Which reflected nothing, no one.
And then I remembered.
When I was a child, our neighbors would disappear.
And there wasn't a pond of crocodiles at all.
And they hadn't moved.
They couldn't move.
They Lived in the small, fenced-off backwater Of a canal.
I'd never seen them alive.
They Were in still photographs taken on the Ivory Coast.
I saw them only once in a studio when I was a child in a city I once loved.
I was afraid until our neighbor, a photographer, Explained it all to me, explained how far Away they were, how harmless; how they were praised In rituals as "powers.
" But they had no "powers," He said.
The next week he vanished.
I thought Someone had cast a spell & that the crocodiles Swam out of the pictures on the wall & grew Silently & multiplied & then turned into Shadows resting on the banks of lakes & streams Or took the shapes of fallen logs in campgrounds In the mountains.
They ate our neighbor, Mr.
Hirata.
They ate his whole family.
That is what I believed, Then.
.
.
that someone had cast a spell.
I did not Know childhood was a spell, or that then there Had been another spell, too quiet to hear, Entering my city, entering the dust we ate.
.
.
.
No one knew it then.
No one could see it, Though it spread through lawnless miles of housing tracts, And the new, bare, treeless streets; it slipped Into the vacant rows of warehouses & picked The padlocked doors of working-class bars And union halls & shuttered, empty diners.
And how it clung! (forever, if one had noticed) To the brothel with the pastel tassels on the shade Of an unlit table lamp.
Farther in, it feasted On the decaying light of failing shopping centers; It spilled into the older, tree-lined neighborhoods, Into warm houses, sealing itself into books Of bedtime stories read each night by fathers-- The books lying open to the flat, neglected Light of dawn; & it settled like dust on windowsills Downtown, filling the smug cafés, schools, Banks, offices, taverns, gymnasiums, hotels, Newsstands, courtrooms, opium parlors, Basque Restaurants, Armenian steam baths, French bakeries, & two of the florists' shops-- Their plate glass windows smashed forever.
Finally it tried to infiltrate the exact Center of my city, a small square bordered With palm trees, olives, cypresses, a square Where no one gathered, not even thieves or lovers.
It was a place which no longer had any purpose, But held itself aloof, I thought, the way A deaf aunt might, from opinions, styles, gossip.
I liked it there.
It was completely lifeless, Sad & clear in what seemed always a perfect, Windless noon.
I saw it first as a child, Looking down at it from that as yet Unvandalized, makeshift studio.
I remember leaning my right cheek against A striped beach ball so that Mr.
Hirata-- Who was Japanese, who would be sent the next week To a place called Manzanar, a detention camp Hidden in stunted pines almost above The Sierra timberline--could take my picture.
I remember the way he lovingly relished Each camera angle, the unwobbling tripod, The way he checked each aperture against The light meter, in love with all things That were not accidental, & I remember The care he took when focusing; how He tried two different lens filters before He found the one appropriate for that Sensual, late, slow blush of afternoon Falling through the one broad bay window.
I remember holding still & looking down Into the square because he asked me to; Because my mother & father had asked me please To obey & be patient & allow the man-- Whose business was failing anyway by then-- To work as long as he wished to without any Irritations or annoyances before He would have to spend these years, my father said, Far away, in snow, & without his cameras.
But Mr.
Hirata did not work.
He played.
His toys gleamed there.
That much was clear to me .
.
.
.
That was the day I decided I would never work.
It felt like a conversion.
Play was sacred.
My father waited behind us on a sofa made From car seats.
One spring kept nosing through.
I remember the camera opening into the light .
.
.
.
And I remember the dark after, the studio closed, The cameras stolen, slivers of glass from the smashed Bay window littering the unsanded floors, And the square below it bathed in sunlight .
.
.
.
All this Before Mr.
Hirata died, months later, From complications following pneumonia.
His death, a letter from a camp official said, Was purely accidental.
I didn't believe it.
Diseases were wise.
Diseases, like the polio My sister had endured, floating paralyzed And strapped into her wheelchair all through That war, seemed too precise.
Like photographs .
.
.
Except disease left nothing.
Disease was like And equation that drank up light & never ended, Not even in summer.
Before my fever broke, And the pains lessened, I could actually see Myself, in the exact center of that square.
How still it had become in my absence, & how Immaculate, windless, sunlit.
I could see The outline of every leaf on the nearest tree, See it more clearly than ever, more clearly than I had seen anything before in my whole life: Against the modest, dark gray, solemn trunk, The leaves were becoming only what they had to be-- Calm, yellow, things in themselves & nothing More--& frankly they were nothing in themselves, Nothing except their little reassurance Of persisting for a few more days, or returning The year after, & the year after that, & every Year following--estranged from us by now--& clear, So clear not one in a thousand trembled; hushed And always coming back--steadfast, orderly, Taciturn, oblivious--until the end of Time.

Written by Anne Sexton |

The Ballad Of The Lonely Masturbator

 The end of the affair is always death.
She's my workshop.
Slippery eye, out of the tribe of myself my breath finds you gone.
I horrify those who stand by.
I am fed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Finger to finger, now she's mine.
She's not too far.
She's my encounter.
I beat her like a bell.
I recline in the bower where you used to mount her.
You borrowed me on the flowered spread.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Take for instance this night, my love, that every single couple puts together with a joint overturning, beneath, above, the abundant two on sponge and feather, kneeling and pushing, head to head.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
I break out of my body this way, an annoying miracle.
Could I put the dream market on display? I am spread out.
I crucify.
My little plum is what you said.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Then my black-eyed rival came.
The lady of water, rising on the beach, a piano at her fingertips, shame on her lips and a flute's speech.
And I was the knock-kneed broom instead.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
She took you the way a women takes a bargain dress off the rack and I broke the way a stone breaks.
I give back your books and fishing tack.
Today's paper says that you are wed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
The boys and girls are one tonight.
They unbutton blouses.
They unzip flies.
They take off shoes.
They turn off the light.
The glimmering creatures are full of lies.
They are eating each other.
They are overfed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.

Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson |

Song of the Lotos-Eaters

THERE is sweet music here that softer falls 
Than petals from blown roses on the grass, 
Or night-dews on still waters between walls 
Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass; 
Music that gentlier on the spirit lies, 5 
Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes; 
Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies.
Here are cool mosses deep, And thro' the moss the ivies creep, And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep, 10 And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep.
Why are we weigh'd upon with heaviness, And utterly consumed with sharp distress, While all things else have rest from weariness? All things have rest: why should we toil alone, 15 We only toil, who are the first of things, And make perpetual moan, Still from one sorrow to another thrown: Nor ever fold our wings, And cease from wanderings, 20 Nor steep our brows in slumber's holy balm; Nor harken what the inner spirit sings, 'There is no joy but calm!'¡ª Why should we only toil, the roof and crown of things? Lo! in the middle of the wood, 25 The folded leaf is woo'd from out the bud With winds upon the branch, and there Grows green and broad, and takes no care, Sun-steep'd at noon, and in the moon Nightly dew-fed; and turning yellow 30 Falls, and floats adown the air.
Lo! sweeten'd with the summer light, The full-juiced apple, waxing over-mellow, Drops in a silent autumn night.
All its allotted length of days, 35 The flower ripens in its place, Ripens and fades, and falls, and hath no toil, Fast-rooted in the fruitful soil.
Hateful is the dark-blue sky, Vaulted o'er the dark-blue sea.
40 Death is the end of life; ah, why Should life all labour be? Let us alone.
Time driveth onward fast, And in a little while our lips are dumb.
Let us alone.
What is it that will last? 45 All things are taken from us, and become Portions and parcels of the dreadful Past.
Let us alone.
What pleasure can we have To war with evil? Is there any peace In ever climbing up the climbing wave? 50 All things have rest, and ripen toward the grave In silence; ripen, fall and cease: Give us long rest or death, dark death, or dreamful ease.
How sweet it were, hearing the downward stream, With half-shut eyes ever to seem 55 Falling asleep in a half-dream! To dream and dream, like yonder amber light, Which will not leave the myrrh-bush on the height; To hear each other's whisper'd speech; Eating the Lotos day by day, 60 To watch the crisping ripples on the beach, And tender curving lines of creamy spray; To lend our hearts and spirits wholly To the influence of mild-minded melancholy; To muse and brood and live again in memory, 65 With those old faces of our infancy Heap'd over with a mound of grass, Two handfuls of white dust, shut in an urn of brass! Dear is the memory of our wedded lives, And dear the last embraces of our wives 70 And their warm tears: but all hath suffer'd change; For surely now our household hearts are cold: Our sons inherit us: our looks are strange: And we should come like ghosts to trouble joy.
Or else the island princes over-bold 75 Have eat our substance, and the minstrel sings Before them of the ten years' war in Troy, And our great deeds, as half-forgotten things.
Is there confusion in the little isle? Let what is broken so remain.
80 The Gods are hard to reconcile: 'Tis hard to settle order once again.
There is confusion worse than death, Trouble on trouble, pain on pain, Long labour unto ag¨¨d breath, 85 Sore task to hearts worn out with many wars And eyes grown dim with gazing on the pilot-stars.
But, propt on beds of amaranth and moly, How sweet (while warm airs lull us, blowing lowly) With half-dropt eyelids still, 90 Beneath a heaven dark and holy, To watch the long bright river drawing slowly His waters from the purple hill¡ª To hear the dewy echoes calling From cave to cave thro' the thick-twin¨¨d vine¡ª 95 To watch the emerald-colour'd water falling Thro' many a wov'n acanthus-wreath divine! Only to hear and see the far-off sparkling brine, Only to hear were sweet, stretch'd out beneath the pine.
The Lotos blooms below the barren peak: 100 The Lotos blows by every winding creek: All day the wind breathes low with mellower tone: Thro' every hollow cave and alley lone Round and round the spicy downs the yellow Lotos-dust is blown.
We have had enough of action, and of motion we, 105 Roll'd to starboard, roll'd to larboard, when the surge was seething free, Where the wallowing monster spouted his foam-fountains in the sea.
Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind, In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie relined On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind.
110 For they lie beside their nectar, and the bolts are hurl'd Far below them in the valleys, and the clouds are lightly curl'd Round their golden houses, girdled with the gleaming world: Where the smile in secret, looking over wasted lands, Blight and famine, plague and earthquake, roaring deeps and fiery sands, 115 Clanging fights, and flaming towns, and sinking ships, and praying hands.
But they smile, they find a music centred in a doleful song Steaming up, a lamentation and an ancient tale of wrong, Like a tale of little meaning tho' the words are strong; Chanted from an ill-used race of men that cleave the soil, 120 Sow the seed, and reap the harvest with enduring toil, Storing yearly little dues of wheat, and wine and oil; Till they perish and they suffer¡ªsome, 'tis whisper'd¡ªdown in hell Suffer endless anguish, others in Elysian valleys dwell, Resting weary limbs at last on beds of asphodel.
125 Surely, surely, slumber is more sweet than toil, the shore Than labour in the deep mid-ocean, wind and wave and oar; O rest ye, brother mariners, we will not wander more.