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As the cloud at its wing's edge whitens
When the clarions of sunrise are heard,
The graves that the bird's note brightens
Grow bright for the bird.

As the waves of the numberless waters

That the wind cannot number who guides
Are the sons of the shore and the daughters
Here lulled by the chime of the tides:
Are here in the press of them standing
We know not if these or if we
Live truliest, or anchored to landing
Or drifted to sea.

In the valley he named of decision
No denser were multitudes met
When the soul of the seer in her vision
Saw nations for doom of them set;
Saw darkness in dawn, and the splendour
Of judgment, the sword and the rod:
But the doom here of death is more tender
And gentler the god.

And gentler the wind from the dreary
Sea-banks by the waves overlapped,
Being weary, speaks peace to the weary

From slopes that the tide-stream hath sapped; And sweeter than all that we call so

The seal of their slumber shall be Till the graves that embosom them also Be sapped of the sea.


For the heart of the waters is cruel,
And the kisses are dire of their lips,

And their waves are as fire is to fuel
To the strength of the seafaring ships,
Though the sea's eye gleam as a jewel
To the sun's eye back as he dips.

Though the sun's eye flash to the sea's

Live light of delight and of laughter, And her lips breathe back to the breeze

The kiss that the wind's lips waft her From the sun that subsides, and sees

No gleam of the storm's dawn after.

And the wastes of the wild sea-marches

Where the borderers are matched in their mightBleak fens that the sun's weight parches, Dense waves that reject his lightChange under the change-coloured arches Of changeless morning and night.

The waves are as ranks enrolled

Too close for the storm to sever: The fens lie naked and cold,

But their heart fails utterly never: The lists are set from of old,

And the warfare endureth for ever.


Miles, and miles, and miles of desolation!

Leagues on leagues on leagues without a change! Sign or token of some eldest nation

Here would make the strange land not so strange. Time-forgotten, yea since time's creation,

Seem these borders where the sea-birds range.

Slowly, gladly, full of peace and wonder

Grows his heart who journeys here alone. Earth and all its thoughts of earth sink under Deep as deep in water sinks a stone. Hardly knows it if the rollers thunder,

Hardly whence the lonely wind is blown.

Tall the plumage of the rush-flower tosses,

Sharp and soft in many a curve and line Gleam and glow the sea-coloured marsh-mosses, Salt and splendid from the circling brine. Streak on streak of glimmering seashine crosses All the land sea-saturate as with wine.

Far, and far between, in divers orders,

Clear grey steeples cleave the low grey sky; Fast and firm as time-unshaken warders,

Hearts made sure by faith, by hope made high. These alone in all the wild sea-borders

Fear no blast of days and nights that die.

All the land is like as one man's face is,

Pale and troubled still with change of cares. Doubt and death pervade her clouded spaces:

Strength and length of life and peace are theirs; Theirs alone amid these weary places,

Seeing not how the wild world frets and fares.

Firm and fast where all is cloud that changes

Cloud-clogged sunlight, cloud by sunlight thinned, Stern and sweet, above the sand-hill ranges

Watch the towers and tombs of men that sinned Once, now calm as earth whose only change is

Wind, and light, and wind, and cloud, and wind.

Out and in and out the sharp straits wander,

In and out and in the wild way strives, Starred and paved and lined with flowers that squander Gold as golden as the gold of hives, Salt and moist and multiform: but yonder, See, what sign of life or death survives?

Seen then only when the songs of olden

Harps were young whose echoes yet endure, Hymned of Homer when his years were golden, Known of only when the world was pure, Here is Hades, manifest, beholden,

Surely, surely here, if aught be sure!

Where the border-line was crossed, that, sundering
Death from life, keeps weariness from rest,
None can tell, who fares here forward wondering;

None may doubt but here might end his quest.
Here life's lightning joys and woes once thundering
Sea-like round him cease like storm suppressed.

Here the wise wave-wandering steadfast-hearted
Guest of many a lord of many a land
Saw the shape or shade of years departed,

Saw the semblance risen and hard at hand,
Saw the mother long from love's reach parted,
Anticleia, like a statue stand.

Statue? nay, nor tissued image woven
Fair on hangings in his father's hall;
Nay, too fast her faith of heart was proven,
Far too firm her loveliest love of all;

Love wherethrough the loving heart was cloven,
Love that hears not when the loud Fates call.

Love that lives and stands up re-created

Then when life has ebbed and anguish fled;
Love more strong than death or all things fated,
Child's and mother's, lit by love and led;
Love that found what life so long awaited
Here, when life came down among the dead.

Here, where never came alive another,

Came her son across the sundering tide
Crossed before by many a warrior brother
Once that warred on Ilion at his side;
Here spread forth vain hands to clasp the mother
Dead, that sorrowing for his love's sake died.

Parted, though by narrowest of divisions,

Clasp he might not, only might implore, Sundered yet by bitterest of derisions,

Son, and mother from the son she boreHere? But all dispeopled here of visions

Lies, forlorn of shadows even, the shore.

All too sweet such men's Hellenic speech is,
All too fain they lived of light to see,
Once to see the darkness of these beaches,
Once to sing this Hades found of me
Ghostless, all its gulfs and creeks and reaches,
Sky, and shore, and cloud, and waste, and sea.


[A Midsummer Holiday etc. 1884.]

THE sea is awake, and the sound of the song of the joy of her waking is rolled

From afar to the star that recedes, from anear to the wastes of the wild wide shore.

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