The Spirit of Mid-Ocean
|The Spirit of Mid-Ocean (1901)
|This poem was published in the posthumous anthology The Garden of Years and Other Poems (1904).|
The hesitant sun stands still, with the arch of a day complete,
And fingers the yielding latch on the door of his sequent dawn,
And the slender poplars shiver and gather about their feet
Their long, limp skirts of shadow that lay on the eastward lawn.
Then the night, the blue-black night, breathes on the mirror of heaven,
Blurs to the ghost of gray the reflected blue of the sea,
And the soul of her stirs on the calm, a sudden impalpable leaven,
Troubling inanimate twilight with hints of a storm to be.
White on the gathering dusk, a gull swings in to the west,
Touching the ominous ocean with the tips of tentative wings,
And the bell of a distant buoy, a dot on a sluggish crest,
Bays in reverberant bass monition of threatening things!
Then, like a wraith that stands in the presence of them that sleep,
Pacing the pinguid sea as a ghost on a slated floor,
Uncloaking her shining shoulders from the robe of the jealous deep,
The Spirit of Grave Mid-Ocean steps silently in to shore.
And her strong hands hold the keys to the depths that none may plumb,
And the bond of God with His sea her ears alone have heard;
But her stern lips guard the secret, loyal, unfaltering, dumb,
Till the sums on which we labor be solved by a single word!
Calm with the infinite calm of the North’s immutable star,
Crowned with serene omniscience, O Spirit of Deep Mid-Sea,
If thus majestic and mute God’s stately seneschals are,
What, in His own high heaven, shall your Maker and Master be?
Am I then the last of the men that this day departed saw,
Sole survivor of all whom it roused to strive and stir,
That I stand alone in the night, and, beaten to bay by awe,
Confront in the sudden stillness the eloquent eyes of Her?
Wake! my unconscious comrades, my brothers in shame and sin,
Vexed with your ominous dreaming, tortured by doubt and fear!
See on the wings of midnight the presence of peace come in,
With the calm, disburdening message that never a noon may hear.
Stand face-front to the surges, deaf to your preachers’ lore,
Claim no creed of their making, for, on the awestruck sea,
The Spirit of Strong Mid-Ocean steps silently in to shore:—
Hush! If this be the servant, what must the Master be?
|This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.|