At the Sea-Side.

O solitary shining sea1
That ripples in the sun,2
O grey and melancholy sea,3
O’er which the shadows run ;4
O many-voiced and angry sea,5
Breaking with moan and strain,—6
I, like a humble, chastened child,7
Come back to thee again ;8
And build child-castles and dig moats9
Upon the quiet sands,10
And twist the cliff-convolvulus11
Once more, round idle hands ;12
And look across that ocean line,13
As o’er life’s summer sea,14
Where many a hope went sailing once,15
Full set, with canvas free.16
Strange, strange to think how some of
Their silver sails have furled,18
And some have whitely glided down19
Into the under world ;20
And some, dismasted, tossed and torn,21
Put back in port once more,22
Thankful to ride, with freight still safe,23
At anchor near the shore.24
Stranger it is to lie at ease25
As now, with thoughts that fly26
More light and wandering than sea-birds27
Between the waves and sky :28
To play child’s play with shells and
And view the ocean grand30
But as one wave that may submerge31
A baby-house of sand ;32
And not once look, or look by chance,33
With old dreams quite supprest,34
Across that mystic wild sea-world35
Of infinite unrest.36
O ever solitary sea,37
Of which we all have found38
Somewhat to dream or say—the type39
Of things without a bound40
Love, long as life, and strong as death ;41
Faith, humble as sublime ;42
Eternity, whose large depths hold43
The wrecks of this small Time ;—44
Unchanging, everlasting sea !45
To spirits soothed and calm46
Thy restless moan of other years47
Becomes an endless psalm.48