On a Book of Sea-Mosses

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On a Book of Sea-Mosses
by James Thomas Fields
From Poems (1849)

ON A BOOK OF SEA-MOSSES,

SENT TO AN EMINENT ENGLISH POET.




To him who sang of Venice, and revealed
How Wealth and Glory clustered in her streets,
And poised her marble domes with wondrous skill,
We send these tributes, plundered from the sea.
These many-colored, variegated forms
Sail to our rougher shores, and rise and fall
To the deep music of the Atlantic wave.
Such spoils we capture where the rainbows drop,
Melting in ocean. Here are broideries strange,
Wrought by the sea-nymphs from their golden hair,
And wove by moonlight. Gently turn the leaf.
From narrow cells, scooped in the rocks, we take
These fairy textures, lightly moored at morn.
Down sunny slopes, outstretching to the deep,
We roam at noon, and gather shapes like these.
Note now the painted webs from verdurous isles,
Festooned and spangled in sea-caves, and say
What hues of land can rival tints like those,
Torn from the scarfs and gonfalons of kings
Who dwell beneath the waters.
Such our Gift,
Culled from a margin of the western world,
And offered unto Genius in the old.