Songs of Love and the Sea

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox


   When first we met (the Sea and I),
      Like one before a King,
   I stood in awe; nor felt nor saw
   The sun, the winds, the earth, the sky
      Or any other thing.
         God’s Universe, to me,
            Was just the Sea.

   When next we met, the lordly Main
      Played but a courtier’s part;
   Crowned Queen was I; and earth and sky,
   And sun and sea were my domain,
      Since love was in my heart.
         Before, beyond, above,
            Was only Love.


   Love built me, on a little rock,
      A little house of pine,
         At first, the Sea
         Beat angrily
   About that house of mine;
   (That dear, dear home of mine).

   But when it turned to go away
      Beyond the sandy track,
         Down o’er its wall
         The house would call,
   Until the Sea came back;
   (It always hurried back).

   And now the two have grown so fond,
      (Oh, breathe no word of this),
         When clouds hang low,
         And east winds blow,
   They meet and kiss and kiss:
   (At night, I hear them kiss).


   No man can understand the Sea, until
   He knows all passions of the senses; all
   The great emotions of the heart; and each
      Exalted aspiration of the soul.
   Then may he sit beside the sea and say:
   ‘I, too, have flung myself against the rocks,
   And kissed their flinty brows with no return;
      And fallen spent upon unfeeling sands.
   I, too, have gone forth yearning, to far shores,
   Seeking that something which would bring content;
      And finding only what I took away;
   And I have looked up, through the veil of skies,
   When all the world was still, and understood
   That I am one with Nature and with God.’


   The Dawn was flying from the Night;
      Swift as the wind she sped;
   Her hair was like a fleece of light;
      Her cheeks were warm and red.

   All passion pale, the Night pursued;
      She fled away, away;
   And in her garments, rainbow hued,
      She gained the peak of day.

   And then, all shaken with alarms,
      She leaped down from its crest;
   Into the Sea’s uplifted arms,
      And swooned upon his breast.

from An Englishman and Other Poems by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1912)

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