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turned to the Earth, but she frowns on her child,
turned to the sea, and he smiled as of old: Sweeter
was the peril of the breakers white and wild, Sweeter than the land, with its bondage and gold!
Thy shores are empires, changed in all save
Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they? Thy waters washed them power while they
were free, And many a tyrant since ; their shores obey The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay Has dried up realms to deserts : not so thou ; Unchangeable save to thy wild waves' play,
Time writes no wrinkles on thine azure brow; Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.
Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's
form Glasses itself in tempests ; in all time, Calm or convulsed, — in breeze, or gale, or
storm, Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime Dark - heaving; boundless, endless, and sub
lime, The image of Eternity, — the throne Of the Invisible ! even from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made ; each zone Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless,
And I have loved thee, Ocean ! and my joy Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be Borne, like thy bubbles, onward ; from a boy I wantoned with thy breakers, — they to me Were a delight; and if the freshening sea Made them a terror, 't was a pleasing fear; For I was as it were a child of thee,
And trusted to thy billows far and near, And laid my hand upon thy mane, - as I do here.
POEMS OF THE SEA.
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
To mingle with the universe, and feel
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, — roll!
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
His steps are not upon thy paths, - thy fields
His petty hope in some near port or bay,
The armaments which thunderstrike the walls
They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar
The sea, the sea, the open sea,
It plays with the clouds, it mocks the skies,
In acclamation. I behold the ships
I love, O, how I love to ride
But who shall bide thy tempest, who shall On the fierce, foaming, bursting tide,
face Where every mad wave drowns the moon,
The blast that wakes the fury of the sea ? And whistles aloft its tempest tune,
O God ! thy justice makes the world turn pale, And tells how goeth the world below,
When on the armed fleet, that royally And why the southwest wind doth blow ! Bears down the surges, carrying war, to smite I never was on the dull, tame shore
Some city or invade some thoughtless realm, But I loved the great sea more and more,
Descends the fierce tornado. The vast hulks And backward flew to her billowy breast,
Are whirled like chaff upon the waves ;
the Like a bird that seeketh her mother's nest,
sails And a mother she was and is to me,
Fly, rent like webs of gossamer ; the masts For I was born on the open sea.
Are snapped asunder; downward from the decks
Downward are slung, into the fathomless gulf, The waves were white, and red the morn, Their cruel engines ; and their hosts, arrayed In the noisy hour when I was born ;
In trappings of the battle-field, are whelmed The whale it whistled, the porpoise rolled,
By whirlpools or dashed dead upon the rocks. And the dolphins bared their backs of gold ;
Then stand the nations still with awe, and And never was heard such an outcry wild,
pause As welcomed to life the ocean child.
A moment from the bloody work of war.
These restless surges eat away the shores With wealth to spend, and a power to range,
Of earth's old continents; the fertile plain But never have sought or sighed for change : Welters in shallows, headlands crumble down, And death, whenever he comes to me,
And the tide drifts the sea-sand in the streets Shall come on the wide, unbounded sea ! Of the drowned city. Thou, meanwhile, afar
In the green chambers of the middle sea,
Creator! thou dost teach the coral worm
To lay his mighty reefs. From age to age,
He builds beneath the waters, till, at last, The sea is mighty, but a mightier sways His restless billows. Thou, whose hands have the long wave rolling from the southern pole
His bulwarks overtop the brine, and check scooped His boundless gulfs and built his shore, thy That smonlder under ocean, heave on liigh
To break upon Japan. Thou bid'st the fires, breath,
The new-made mountains, and uplift their peaks, That moved in the beginning o'er his face,
A place of refuge for the storm-driven bird. Moves o'er it evermore. The obedient waves
The birds and wafting billows plant the rifts To its strong motion roll, and rise and fall.
With herb and tree; sweet fountains gush; Still from that realm of rain thy cloud goes up,
sweet airs As at the first, to water the great earth, And keep her valleys green.
Ripple the living lakes that, fringed with flowA hundred realms
ers, Watch its broad shadow warping on the wind, And in the dropping shower with glariness hear On thy creation and pronounce it good.
Are gathered in the hollows. Thou dost look Thy promise of the harvest. I look forth
Its valleys, glorious with their summer green, Over the boundless blue, where joyously
Praise thee in silent beauty ; and its woods The bright crests of innumerable waves
Swept by the murmuring winds of ocean, join Glance to the sun at once, as when the hands
The murmuring shores in a perpetual hymn. Of a great multitude are upward flung
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.
Ah! why hath Jehovah, in forming the world,
His ramparts of rocks round the continent hurled,
And cradled the deep in his hand, (Written at Scarborough, in the summer of 1805.) If man may transgress his eternal command, All hail to the ruins, the rocks, and the shores! And leap o'er the bounds of his birth, Thou wide-rolling Ocean, all hail !
To ravage the uttermost earth, Now brilliant with sunbeams and dimpled with And violate nations and realms that should be
Distinct as the billows, yet one as the sea ? Now dark with the fresh-blowing gale, While soft o'er thy bosom the cloud-shadows sail, There are, gloomy Ocean, a brotherless clan, And the silver-winged sea-fowl on high,
Who traverse thy banishing waves, Like meteors bespangle the sky,
The poor disinherited outcasts of man, Or dive in the gulf, or triumphantly ride,
Whom Avarice coins into slaves. Like foam on the surges, the swans of the tide.
From the homes of their kindred, their fore
fathers' graves, From the tumult and smoke of the city set free, Love, friendship, and conjugal bliss, With eager and awful delight,
They are dragged on the hoary abyss ; From the crest of the mountain I gaze upon thee, The shark hears their shrieks, and, ascending toI gaze, — and am changed at the sight;
day, For mine eye is illumined, my genius takes light, Demands of the spoiler his share of the prey. My soul, like the sun, with a glance Embraces the boundless expanse,
Then joy to the tempest that whelms them beneath, And moves on thy waters, wherever they roll,
And makes their destruction its sport ; From the day-darting zone to the night-shadowed But woe to the winds that propitiously breathe, pole.
And waft them in safety to port,
Where the vultures and vampires of Mammon My spirit descends where the day-spring is born, resort ; Where the billows are rubies on fire,
Where Europe exultingly drains And the breezes that rock the light cradle of morn The life-blood from Africa's veins ; Are sweet as the Phoenix's pyre.
Where man rules o'er man with a merciless rod, O regions of beauty, of love and desire !
And spurns at his footstool the image of God!