ON THE SEA WALL

I sit upon the old sea wall,
  And watch the shimmering sea,
Where soft and white the moonbeams fall,
  Till, in a fantasy,
Some pure white maiden's funeral pall
  The strange light seems to me.

The waters break upon the shore
  And shiver at my feet,
While I dream old dreams o'er and o'er,
  And dim old scenes repeat;
Tho' all have dreamed the same before,
  They still seem new and sweet.

The waves still sing the same old song
  That knew an elder time;
The breakers' beat is not more strong,
  Their music more sublime;
And poets thro' the ages long
  Have set these notes to rhyme.

But this shall not deter my lyre,
  Nor check my simple strain;
If I have not the old-time fire,
  I know the ancient pain:
The hurt of unfulfilled desire,—
  The ember quenched by rain.

I know the softly shining sea
  That rolls this gentle swell
Has snarled and licked its tongues at me
  And bared its fangs as well;
That 'neath its smile so heavenly,
  There lurks the scowl of hell!

But what of that? I strike my string
  (For songs in youth are sweet);
I 'll wait and hear the waters bring
  Their loud resounding beat;
Then, in her own bold numbers sing
  The Ocean's dear deceit!

This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.