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My best and gentlest lady! even thus,
"HOU comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,
Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand,
THE SECRET OF THE SEA.
H! what pleasant visions haunt me
As I gaze upon the sea !
All my dreams, come back to me.
Sails of silk and ropes of sendal,
Such as gleam in ancient lore;
And the answer from the shore !
Till his soul was full of longing,
And he cried, with impulse strong, “ Helmsman! for the love of heaven,
Teach me, too, that wondrous song!”
“Wouldst thou, - so the helmsman answered,
“ Learn the secret of the sea ? Only those who brave its dangers
Comprehend its mystery !”
In each sail that skims the horizon,
In each landward-blowing breeze, I behold that stately galley,
Hear those mournful melodies;
soul is full of longing For the secret of the sea, And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.
Close, close it is pressed to the window,
As if those childish eyes Were looking into the darkness,
To see some form arise.
And a woman's waving shadow
Is passing to and fro, Now rising to the ceiling,
Now bowing and bending low.
What tale do the'roaring ocean,
And the night-wind, bleak and wild,
Tell to that little child ?
And why do the roaring ocean,
And the night-wind, wild and bleak,
Drive the color from her cheek?
THE rocky ledge runs far into the sea,
And on its outer point, some
A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day.
Even at this distance I can see the tides,
Upheaving, break unheard along its base, A speechless wrath, that rises and subsides
In the white lip and tremor of the face.
And as the evening darkens, lo! how bright,
Through the deep purple of the twilight air, Beams forth the sudden radiance of its light,
With strange, unearthly splendor in its glare !
Not one alone; from each projecting cape
And perilous reef along the ocean's verge, Starts into life a dim, gigantic shape,
Holding its lantern o'er the restless surge.
Like the great giant Christopher it stands
Upon the brink of the tempestuous wave, Wading far out among the rocks and sands,
The night-o'ertaken mariner to save.
And the great ships sail outward and return,
Bending and bowing o'er the billowy swells, And ever joyful, as they see it burn,
They wave their silent welcomes and farewells.
They come forth from the darkness, and their sails
Gleam for a moment only in the blaze, And eager faces, as the light unveils,
Gaze at the tower, and vanish while they gaze.
The mariner remembers when a child,
On his first voyage, he saw it fade and sink; And when, returning from adventures wild,
He saw it rise again o'er ocean's brink.
Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same
Year after year, through all the silent night, Burns on forevermore that quenchless flame,
Shines on that inextinguishable light!
It sees the ocean to its bosom clasp
The rocks and sea-sand with the kiss of peace; It sees the wild winds lift it in their grasp,
And hold it up, and shake it like a fleece.
The startled waves leap over it; the storm
Smites it with all the scourges of the rain, And steadily against its solid form
Press the great shoulders of the hurricane.
The sea-bird wheeling round it, with the din
Of wings and winds and solitary cries, Blinded and maddened by the light within,
Dashes himself against the glare, and dies.
A new Prometheus, chained upon the rock,
Still grasping in his hand the fire of Jove, It does not hear the cry, nor heed the shock,
But hails the mariner with words of love.