Poems That Every Child Should Know/The Sands of Dee

For other versions of this work, see The Sands of Dee.

The Sands of Dee.

I have often had the pleasure of riding across the coast from Chester, England, to Rhyl, on the north coast of Wales, where stretch "The Sands of Dee" (Charles Kingsley, 1819-75). These purple sands at low tide stretch off into the sea miles away, and are said to be full of quicksands.

"O Mary, go and call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
Across the sands of Dee."
The western wind was wild and dark with foam
And all alone went she.

The western tide crept up along the sand,
And o'er and o'er the sand,
And round and round the sand,
As far as eye could see.
The rolling mist came down and hid the land;
And never home came she.

Oh! is it weed, or fish, or floating hair,—
A tress of golden hair,
A drownèd maiden's hair,
Above the nets at sea?
Was never salmon yet that shone so fair
Among the stakes on Dee.

They rowed her in across the rolling foam,
The cruel crawling foam,
The cruel hungry foam,
To her grave beside the sea.
But still the boatmen hear her call the cattle home
Across the sands of Dee.

Charles Kingsley.