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From the far-off isles enchanted
Heaven has planted
From the strong Will, and the Endeavor
That forever Wrestles with the tides of Fate ; From the wreck of Hopes far-scattered,
Tempest-shattered, Floating waste and desolate ; –
Ever drifting, drifting, drifting
On the shifting Currents of the restless heart; Till at length in books recorded,
They, like hoarded Household words, no more depart.
Light as a flake of foam upon the wind
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
A WEARY weed, tossed to and fro,
Drearily drenched in the ocean brine, Soaring high and sinking low,
Lashed along without will of mine ;
A shoal of dolphins tumbling in wild glee, Fresh wreaths from the coral pavement spring, Glowed with such orient tints, they might have Like the terraced pride of Assyria's king; been
The turf looks green where the breakers rolled ; The rainbow's offspring, when it met the ocean O'er the whirlpool ripens the rind of gold ; In that resplendent vision I had seen.
The sea-snatched isle is the home of men, While yet in ecstasy,I hung o'er these,
And mountains exult where the wave hath been. With every motion pouring out fresh beauties, As though the conscious colors came and went But why do ye plant, 'neath the billows dark, At pleasure, glorying in their subtle changes, The wrecking reef for the gallant bark ? Enormous o'er the flood, Leviathan
There are snares enough on the tented field, Looked forth, and from his roaring nostrils sent Mid the blossomed sweets that the valleys yield; Two fountains to the sky, then plunged amain There are serpents to coil ere the flowers are up, In headlong pastime through the closing gulf.
There is a poison drop in man's purest cup, These were but preludes to the revelry There are foes that watch for his cradle breath, That reigned at sunset : then the deep let loose And why need ye sow the floods with death? Its blithe adventurers to sport at large, As kindly instinct taught them; buoyant shells, With mouldering bones the deeps are white, On stormless voyages, in fleets or single,
From the ice-clad pole to the tropics bright ; Wherried their tiny mariners ; aloof,
The mermaid háth twisted her fingers cold On wing-like fins, in bow-and-arrow figures,
With the mesh of the sea-boy's curls of gold, The flying-fishes darted to and fro;
And the gods of the ocean have frowned to see While spouting whales projected watery columns, The mariner's bed in their halls of glee ; That turned to arches at their height, and seemed Hath earth no graves, that ye thus must spread The skeletons of crystal palaces
The boundless sea for the thronging dead ? Built on the blue expanse, then perishing, Frail as the element which they were made of :
Ye build - ye build — but ye enter not in, Dolphins, in gambols, lent the lucid brine
Like the tribes whom the desert devoured in their Hues richer than the canopy of eve, That overhung the scene with gorgeous clouds,
From the land of promise ye fade and die
Ere its verdure gleams forth on your weary eye ; Decaying into gloom more beautiful Than the sun's golden liveries which they lost :
As the kings of the cloud-crowned pyramid, Till light that hides, and darkness that reveals
Their noiseless bones in oblivion hid,
Ye slumber unmarked mid the desolate main,
THE CORAL INSECT.
THE PELICAN ISLAND."
By instinct taught, performed its little task,
From its own essence exquisitely modelled ;
There breed, and die, and leave a progeny,
Still multiplied beyond the reach of numbers, Toil on! toil on! ye ephemeral train,
To frame new cells and tombs, then breed and die Who build in the tossing and treacherous main; As all their ancestors had done,
and rest, Toil on! for the wisdom of man ye mock, Hermetically sealed, each in its shrine, With your sand-based structures and domes of A statue in this temple of oblivion ! rock,
Millions of millions thus, from age to age, Your columns the fathomless fountains' cave, With simplest skill and toil unweariable, And your arches spring up to the crested wave; No moment and no movement unimproved, Ye 're a puny race thus to boldly rear
Laid line on line, on terrace terrace spread, A fabric so vast in a realm so drear.
To swell the heightening, brightening, gradual
mound, Ye bind the deep with your secret zone, By marvellous structure climbing towards the day, The ocean is sealed, and the surge a stone,
LYDIA H. SIGOURNEY.
A point at first Left by one tide and cancelled by the next; It peered above those waves; a point so small Egypt's dread wonders, still defying Time, I just perceived it, fixed where all was floating ; Where cities have been crumbled into sand, And when a bubble crossed it, the blue film Scattered by winds beyond the Libyan desert, Expanded like a sky above the speck ;
Or melted down into the mud of Nile, That speck became a hand-breadth ; day and night And cast in tillage o'er the corn-sown fields, It spread, accumulated, and erelong
Where Memphis flourished, and the Pharaohs Presented to my view a dazzling plain,
reigned ; White as the moon amid the sapphire sea; Egypt's gray piles of hieroglyphic grandeur, Bare at low water, and as still as death,
That have survived the language which they speak, But when the tide came gurgling o'er the surface Preserving its deed emblems to the eye, 'T was like a resurrection of the dead :
Yet hiding from the mind what these reveal ;From graves innumerable, punctures fine Her pyramids would be mere pinnacles, In the close coral, capillary swarms
Her giant statues, wrought from rocks of granite Covered the bald-pate reef;
But puny ornaments for such a pile
As this stupendous mound of catacombs, Erelong the reef o'ertopt the spring-flood's height, Filled with dry mummies of the builder-worms. And mocked the billows when they leapt upon it,
THE CORAL GROVE.
Where the purple mullet and gold-fish rove ; A sea-lake shone amidst the fossil isle,
Where the sea-flower spreads its leaves of blue Reflecting in a ring its cliffs and caverns,
That never are wet with falling dew, With heaven itself seen like a lake below.
But in bright and changeful beauty shine
Far down in the green and glassy brine. Compared with this amazing edifice,
The floor is of sand, like the mountain drift, Raised by the weakest creatures in existence, And the pearl-shells spangle the flinty snow; What are the works of intellectual man?
From coral rocks the sea-plants lift Towers, temples, palaces, and sepulchres ;
Their boughs, where the tides and billows flow; Ideal images in sculptured forms,
The water is calm and still below, Thoughts hewn in columns, or in domes expanded, For the winds and waves are absent there, Fancies through every maze of beauty shown; And the sands are bright as the stars that glow Pride, gratitude, affection turned to marble,
In the motionless fields of upper air. In honor of the living or the dead ;
There, with its waving blade of green, What are they ? — fine-wrought miniatures of art, The sea-flag streams through the silent water, Too exquisite to bear the weight of dew,
And the crimson leaf of the dulse is seen Which every morn lets fall in pearls upon them, To blush, like a banner bathed in slaughter. Till all their pompsinks down in mouldering relics, There, with a light and easy motion, Yet in their ruin lovelier than their prime ! - The fan-coral sweeps through the clear, deep sea ; Dust in the balance, atoms in the gale,
And the yellow and scarlet tufts of ocean Compared with these achievements in the deep, Are bending like corn on the upland lea. Were all the monuments of olden time,
And life, in rare and beautiful forms, In days when there were giants on the earth.
Is sporting amid those bowers of stone, Babel's stupendous folly, though it aimed
And is safe when the wrathful spirit of storms To scale heaven's battlements, was but a toy,
Has made the top of the wave his own. The plaything of the world in infancy ;
And when the ship from his fury flies, The ramparts, towers, and gates of Babylon,
Where the myriad voices of ocean roar, Built for eternity, – though, where they stood, When the wind-god frowns in the murky skies, Ruin itself stands still for lack of work,
And demons are waiting the wreck on shore, And Desolation keeps unbroken Sabbath ;
Then, far below, in the peaceful sea, Great Babylon, in its full moon of empire,
The purple mullet and gold-fish rove, Even when its “head of gold” was smitten off
Where the waters murmur tranquilly, And from a monarch changed into a brute
Through the bending twigs of the coral grove. Great Babylon was like a wreath of sand,
JAMES GATES PERCIVAL