Oh, take this shell, this pretty thing
With tinted waves of pearly red;
Hold close your ear and hear it sing,
Then tell me what its voice hath said.
A song of surges deep and strong,
A song of summer sweet and long,
A sound of storm and wind and rain,
A sound of joy—a glad refrain.
O plaything of the idle sea,
Whence come these changing tints of thine?
Have sunset clouds looked down on thee
And stained thee with their hues divine?
Oh, tell the secrets thou must know
Of clouds above and waves below;
Oh, whisper of the bending sky
And ocean caves where jewels lie.
O beauteous sea-shell, tinged with red,
What dost thou know; what canst thou tell?
Unto what mysteries are thou wed,
Thou fragile thing, thou pearly shell?
A whisper of the sounding sea;
A sweep of surges strong and free;
A tale of life—a tale of death;
A warm, bright sin—an icy breath.
Ah, more than this, thou lovely shell,
Thy years have gathered from the deep!
And, more than this, thy voice can tell
Of things learned in that ocean sleep.
A grave within the lonely sea;
A spot where love can never be;
A place where tears may never fall;
A lonely grave—and that is all.
Fannie Isabelle Sherrick
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