At The Seaside

O SOLITARY shining sea
That ripples in the sun,
O gray and melancholy sea,
O'er which the shadows run;

O many-voiced and angry sea,
Breaking with moan and strain,--
I, like a humble, chastened child,
Come back to thee again;

And build child-castles and dig moats
Upon the quiet sands,
And twist the cliff-convolvulus
Once more, round idle hands;

And look across that ocean line,
As o'er life's summer sea,
Where many a hope went sailing once,
Full set, with canvas free.

Strange, strange to think how some of them
Their silver sails have furled,
And some have whitely glided down
Into the under world;

And some, dismasted, tossed and torn,
Put back in port once more,
Thankful to ride, with freight still safe,
At anchor near the shore.

Stranger it is to lie at ease
As now, with thoughts that fly
More light and wandering than sea-birds
Between the waves and sky:

To play child's play with shells and weeds,
And view the ocean grand
Sunk to one wave that may submerge
A baby-house of sand;

And not once look, or look by chance,
With old dreams quite supprest,
Across that mystic wild sea-world
Of infinite unrest.

O ever solitary sea,
Of which we all have found
Somewhat to dream or say,--the type
Of things without a bound--

Love, long as life, and strong as death;
Faith, humble as sublime;
Eternity, whose large depths hold
The wrecks of this small Time;--

Unchanging, everlasting sea!
To spirits soothed and calm
Thy restless moan of other years
Becomes an endless psalm.