Elizabeth Barrett Browning | |
The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.
Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!
Christina Rossetti | |
Something this foggy day, a something which
Is neither of this fog nor of today,
Has set me dreaming of the winds that play
Past certain cliffs, along one certain beach,
And turn the topmost edge of waves to spray:
Ah pleasant pebbly strand so far away,
So out of reach while quite within my reach,
As out of reach as India or Cathay!
I am sick of where I am and where I am not,
I am sick of foresight and of memory,
I am sick of all I have and all I see,
I am sick of self, and there is nothing new;
Oh weary impatient patience of my lot!
Thus with myself: how fares it, Friends, with you?
Henry Van Dyke | |
Knight-errant of the Never-ending Quest,
And Minstrel of the Unfulfilled Desire;
For ever tuning thy frail earthly lyre
To some unearthly music, and possessed
With painful passionate longing to invest
The golden dream of Love's immortal fire
In mortal robes of beautiful attire,
And fold perfection to thy throbbing breast!
What wonder, Shelley, if the restless wave
Should claim thee and the leaping flame consume
Thy drifted form on Viareggio's beach?
Fate to thy body gave a fitting grave,
And bade thy soul ride on with fiery plume,
Thy wild song ring in ocean's yearning speech!
David Herbert Lawrence | |
People were bathing and posturing themselves on the beach,
and all was dreary, great robot limbs, robot breasts,
robot voices, robot even the gay umbrellas.
But a woman, shy and alone, was washing herself under a tap and the glimmer of the presence of the gods was like
lilies, and like water-lilies.
A E Housman | |
Wake: the silver dusk returning
Up the beach of darkness brims,
And the ship of sunrise burning
Strands upon the eastern rims.
Wake: the vaulted shadow shatters,
Trampled to the floor it spanned,
And the tent of night in tatters
Straws the sky-pavilioned land.
Up, lad, up, 'tis late for lying:
Hear the drums of morning play;
Hark, the empty highways crying
"Who'll beyond the hills away?"
Towns and countries woo together,
Forelands beacon, belfries call;
Never lad that trod on leather
Lived to feast his heart with all.
Up, lad: thews that lie and cumber
Sunlit pallets never thrive;
Morns abed and daylight slumber
Were not meant for man alive.
Clay lies still, but blood's a rover;
Breath's a ware that will not keep.
Up, lad: when the journey's over
There'll be time enough to sleep.
William Ernest Henley | |
There's a regret
So grinding, so immitigably sad,
Remorse thereby feels tolerant, even glad.
Do you not know it yet?
For deeds undone
Rnakle and snarl and hunger for their due,
Till there seems naught so despicable as you
In all the grin o' the sun.
Like an old shoe
The sea spurns and the land abhors, you lie
About the beach of Time, till by and by
Death, that derides you too --
Death, as he goes
His ragman's round, espies you, where you stray,
With half-an-eye, and kicks you out of his way
And then -- and then, who knows
But the kind Grave
Turns on you, and you feel the convict Worm,
In that black bridewell working out his term,
Hanker and grope and crave?
"Poor fool that might --
That might, yet would not, dared not, let this be,
Think of it, here and thus made over to me
In the implacable night!"
And writhing, fain
And like a triumphing lover, he shall take,
His fill where no high memory lives to make
His obscene victory vain.
William Ernest Henley | |
The beach was crowded.
Pausing now and then,
He groped and fiddled doggedly along,
His worn face glaring on the thoughtless throng
The stony peevishness of sightless men.
He seemed scarce older than his clothes.
Grotesquing thinly many an old sweet song,
So cracked his fiddle, his hand so frail and wrong,
You hardly could distinguish one in ten.
He stopped at last, and sat him on the sand,
And, grasping wearily his bread-winner,
Staring dim towards the blue immensity,
Then leaned his head upon his poor old hand.
He may have slept: he did not speak nor stir:
His gesture spoke a vast despondency.
Thomas Edward Brown | |
To-night I saw three maidens on the beach,
Dark-robed descending to the sea,
So slow, so silent of all speech,
And visible to me
Only by that strange drift-light, dim, forlorn,
Of the sun's wreck and clashing surges born.
Each after other went,
And they were gathered to his breast--
It seemed to me a sacrament
Of some stern creed unblest:
As when to rocks, that cheerless girt the bay,
They bound thy holy limbs, Andromeda.
Sara Teasdale | |
I thought of you and how you love this beauty,
And walking up the long beach all alone
I heard the waves breaking in measured thunder
As you and I once heard their monotone.
Around me were the echoing dunes, beyond me
The cold and sparkling silver of the sea --
We two will pass through death and ages lengthen
Before you hear that sound again with me.
A R Ammons | |
So I said I am Ezra
and the wind whipped my throat
gaming for the sounds of my voice
I listened to the wind
go over my head and up into the night
Turning to the sea I said
I am Ezra
but there were no echoes from the waves
The words were swallowed up
in the voice of the surf
or leaping over the swells
lost themselves oceanward
Over the bleached and broken fields
I moved my feet and turning from the wind
that ripped sheets of sand
from the beach and threw them
like seamists across the dunes
swayed as if the wind were taking me away
I am Ezra
As a word too much repeated
falls out of being
so I Ezra went out into the night
like a drift of sand
and splashed among the windy oats
that clutch the dunes
of unremembered seas
Margaret Atwood | |
Gone are the days
when you could walk on water.
When you could walk.
The days are gone.
Only one day remains,
the one you're in.
The memory is no friend.
It can only tell you
what you no longer have:
a left hand you can use,
two feet that walk.
All the brain's gadgets.
The one hand that still works
grips, won't let go.
That is not a train.
There is no cricket.
Let's not panic.
Let's talk about axes,
which kinds are good,
the many names of wood.
This is how to build
a house, a boat, a tent.
No use; the toolbox
refuses to reveal its verbs;
the rasp, the plane, the awl,
revert to sullen metal.
Do you recognize anything? I said.
Yes, you said.
Better to watch the stream
that flows across the floor
and is made of sunlight,
the forest made of shadows;
better to watch the fireplace
which is now a beach.
Paul Laurence Dunbar | |
When a woman looks up at you with a twist about her eyes,
And her brows are half uplifted in a nicely feigned surprise
As you breathe some pretty sentence, though she hates you all the while,
She is very apt to stun you with a made to order smile.
It's a sublte combination of a sneer and a caress,
With a dash of warmth thrown in to relieve its iciness,
And she greets you when she meets you with that look as if a file
Had been used to fix and fashion out the made to order smile.
I confess that I'm eccentric and am not a woman's man,
For they seem to be constructed on the bunko fakir plan,
And it somehow sets me thinking that her heart is full of guile
When a woman looks up at me with a made to order smile.
Now, all maidens, young and aged, hear the lesson I would teach:
Ye who meet us in the ballroom, ye who meet us at the beach,
Pray consent to try and charm us by some other sort of wile
And relieve us from the burden of that made to order smile.
Edna St Vincent Millay | |
No matter what I say,
All that I really love
Is the rain that flattens on the bay,
And the eel-grass in the cove;
The jingle-shells that lie and bleach
At the tide-line, and the trace
Of higher tides along the beach:
Nothing in this place.
James Joyce | |
Wind whines and whines the shingle,
The crazy pierstakes groan;
A senile sea numbers each single
From whining wind and colder
Grey sea I wrap him warm
And touch his trembling fineboned shoulder
And boyish arm.
Around us fear, descending
Darkness of fear above
And in my heart how deep unending
Ache of love!
Weldon Kees | |
Squat, unshaven, full of gas,
Joseph Samuels, former clerk
in four large cities, out of work,
waits in the darkened underpass.
In sanctuary, out of reach,
he stares at the fading light outside:
the rain beginning: hears the tide
that drums along the empty beach.
When drops first fell at six o'clock,
the bathers left.
The last car's gone.
Sun's final rays reflect upon
the streaking rain, the rambling dock.
He takes an object from his coat
and holds it tightly in his hand
(eyes on the stretch of endless sand).
And then, in darkness, cuts his throat.
Weldon Kees | |
Last summer, in the blue heat,
Over the beach, in the burning air,
A legless beggar lurched on calloused fists
To where I waited with the sun-dazed birds.
He said, "The summer boils away.
Joins to another life; this parched skin
Dries and dies and flakes away,
Becomes your costume when the torn leaves blow.
--Thus in the losing autumn,
Over the streets, I now lurch
Legless to your side and speak your name
Under a gray sky ripped apart
By thunder and the changing wind.
Elizabeth Bishop | |
The roaring alongside he takes for granted,
and that every so often the world is bound to shake.
He runs, he runs to the south, finical, awkward,
in a state of controlled panic, a student of Blake.
The beach hisses like fat.
On his left, a sheet
of interrupting water comes and goes
and glazes over his dark and brittle feet.
He runs, he runs straight through it, watching his toes.
--Watching, rather, the spaces of sand between them
where (no detail too small) the Atlantic drains
rapidly backwards and downwards.
As he runs,
he stares at the dragging grains.
The world is a mist.
And then the world is
minute and vast and clear.
is higher or lower.
He couldn't tell you which.
His beak is focussed; he is preoccupied,
looking for something, something, something.
Poor bird, he is obsessed!
The millions of grains are black, white, tan, and gray
mixed with quartz grains, rose and amethyst.
Pablo Neruda | |
Don't go far off, not even for a day, because --
because -- I don't know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.
Don't leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.
Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
Don't leave me for a second, my dearest,
because in that moment you'll have gone so far
I'll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?
Pablo Neruda | |
Leaning into the afternoons,
I cast my sad nets towards your oceanic eyes.
There, in the highest blaze my solitude lengthens and flames;
Its arms turning like a drowning man's.
I send out red signals across your absent eyes
That wave like the sea, or the beach by a lighthouse.
You keep only darkness my distant female;
>From your regard sometimes, the coast of dread emerges.
Leaning into the afternoons,
I fling my sad nets to that sea that is thrashed
By your oceanic eyes.
The birds of night peck at the first stars
That flash like my soul when I love you.
The night, gallops on its shadowy mare
Shedding blue tassels over the land.
Pablo Neruda | |
Don't go far off, not even for a day
Don't go far off, not even for a day,
Because I don't know how to say it - a day is long
And I will be waiting for you, as in
An empty station when the trains are
Parked off somewhere else, asleep.
Don't leave me, even for an hour, because then
The little drops of anguish will all run together,
The smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
Into me, choking my lost heart.
Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve
On the beach, may your eyelids never flutter
Into the empty distance.
Don't LEAVE me for
A second, my dearest, because in that moment you'll
Have gone so far I'll wander mazily
Over all the earth, asking, will you
Come back? Will you leave me here, dying?