Page images
PDF
EPUB

My life is like a stroll upon the beach,
As near the ocean's edge as I can go;

My tardy steps its waves sometimes o'erreach,
Sometimes I stay to let them overflow.

My sole employment 'tis, and scrupulous care
To set my gains beyond the reach of tides,

Each smoother pebble and each shell more rare,
Which ocean kindly to my hand confides.

I have but few companions on the shore,

They scorn the strand who sail upon the sea;

Yet oft I think the ocean they 've sailed o'er,
Is deeper known upon the strand to me.

The middle sea contains no crimson dulse,
Its deeper waves cast up no pearls to view,

Along the shore my hand is on its pulse,

And I converse with many a shipwrecked crew.

H. D. Thoread.

The sad rhyme of the men mho proudly clung
To their first fault, and wither'd in their pride.

Over the sea our galleys went,
With cleaving prows in order brave,.
To a speeding wind and a bounding wave —

A gallant armament:
Each bark built out of a forest-tree,

Left leafy and rough as first it grew,
And nail'd all over the gaping sides,
Within and without, with black-bull hides,
Seeth'd in fat and suppled in flame,
To bear the playful billows' game;
So each good ship was rude to see,
Rude and bare to the outward view,

But each upbore a stately tent;
Where cedar-pales in scented row
Kept out the flakes of the dancing brine:
And an awning drooped the mast below,
In fold on fold of the purple fine,
That neither noon-tide, nor star-shine,
Nor moonlight cold which maketh mad,

Might pierce the regal tenement,

When the sun dawn'd, oh, gay and glad
We set the sail and plied the oar;
But when the night-wind blew like breath,
For joy of one day's voyage more,
We sang together on the wide sea,
Like men at peace on a peaceful shore;
Each sail was loosed to the wind so free,
Each helm made sure by the twilight star,
And in a sleep as calm as death,
We, the strangers from afar,

Lay stretch'd along, each weary crew
In a circle round its wondrous tent,
Whence gleam'd soft light and curl'd rich scent,

And with light and perfume, music too:
So the stars wheel'd round, and the darkness past,
And at morn we started beside the mast,
And still each ship was sailing fast!

One morn, the land appear'd ! — a speck
Dim trembling betwixt sea and sky —

Avoid it, cried our pilot, check

The shout, restrain the longing eye!

But the heaving sea was black behind

For many a night and many a day,

And land, though but a rock, was nigh;

So we broke the cedar pales away,

Let the purple awning flap in the wind,
And a statue bright was on every deck!

We shouted, every man of us,

And steered right into the harbor thus,

With pomp and pa?an glorious.

[ocr errors][merged small]

An hundred shapes of lucid stone!

All day we built a shrine for each —
A shrine of rock for every one —
Nor paused till in the westering sun

We sate together on the beach
To sing, because our task was done;
When lo! what shouts and merry songs!
What laughter all the distance stirs!
What raft comes loaded with its throngs
Of gentle islanders!
'Our isles are just at hand,' they cried;

'Like cloudlets faint at even sleeping, Our temple-gates are open'd wide,

Our olive-groves thick shade are keeping
For the lucid shapes you bring,' they cried.
Oh then we awoke with sudden start
From our deep dream; we knew, too late,
How bare the rock, how desolate,
To which we had flung our precious freight:

Yet we called out —' Depart!
Our gifts, once given, must here abide:
Our work is done; we have no heart
To mar our work,' we cried.

Robert Browmng.

TO MY COMPANIONS.

Ye heavy-hearted mariners

Who sail this shore,
Ye patient, ye who labor

Sitting at the sweeping oar,
And see afar the flashing sea-gulls play
On the free waters, and the glad bright day
Twine with his hand the spray;

From out your dreariness,

From your heart-weariness,

I speak, for I am yours

On these gray shores.

Nay, nay, I know not, Mariners,

What cliffs these are,
That high uplift their smooth dark fronts,

And sadly round us bar;
I do imagine, that the free clouds play
Above those eminent heights, that somewhere Day
Rides his triumphant way,

And hath secure dominion

Over our stern oblivion,

But see no path thereout

To free from doubt.

[graphic][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »