Mary Jane Jewsbury Poems >>
The Oceanides III
THE BURDEN OF THE SEA.
THE sea hath spoken! Hear, O Earth!
Where everlasting hills arise;
And all the host of heaven, stand forth;
Together with the crystal skies;-
And thou-world's curse and blessing-MAN,
Creating, desolating all
That mind may gather in its span-
Stand forth, and bear a mightier thrall!
"I am thy prophet-puny world,
'Tis God himself that speaks by me!
By me, his wrath is oftenest hurled;
Hear, then, the vision of the sea:
Ye talk of kingdoms and of kings,
Of fleets to triumph o'er me, born,
Know-that my weeds are mightier things,
And laugh you in my depths to scorn.
"Famed cities with their harbours strong:
Where now is Tyre? and Zidon where?
I made their power, and I have rung
Their knell, upon the mountains bare:
The merchant and the mariner,
In purple clothed, and sage with skill,
Looked on me as their Servitor-
They found I had a master's will.
"Old Ninus never dared my frown;
Nor Belus, gorgeous power and bold;
Wise Egypt dared-and, overthrown,
Her hosts lie gathered in my fold.
As ocean, or as inland sea,
By golden Ind or Grecian isle,
I mock at man-the same to me
The royal fleet, the pirate vile.
"I bear them to their port of rest-
How loud their vaunts of lordly pride!
Like foam I dash them from my breast-
How cruel then my waters wide!
Yet am I one, or calm or heaving,
The changing, yet the changeless sea;
And victor, vanquished-joyous, grieving-
But one, is mortal man to me.
"The billows that engulph a fleet
And desolate a thousand homes,
The sea-bird skims with careless feet;
The nautilus securely roams;
I know not little, know not great-
Earth hath for me nor friend not foe:
To me God never gave a mate;
The hollow of his hand I know.
"I work his will-a spirit bland,
A gentle minister of good;-
Or scatter death from land to land,
And make a burial place my flood.
Of myriad navies, myriad hosts,
I have the wrecks beneath my waves;-
Call ye them trophies?-idle boasts!
They match the coral of my caves.
"Vaunt on, proud creatures, formed of clay,
Subdue, and build, and desolate;
And grave in brass from day to day
Your strength, your glory, and your state:
March through your lands from east to west,
And be like Lucifer's your will;
But I am God's-and on my breast
Veil that high look-be meek-be still."
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Based on Keywords: nautilus, servitor, oftenest, ninus, engulph, man-the, belus, s-and, zidon, know-that