Cicely Fox Smith

(1882-1954 / England)

A Coral Island


Girded by wastes of sounding foam,
Slumbers unseen the fruitful isle;
Day in, day out, the cloudless dome
Looks down with its unending smile,
And night by night the voiceful tide
Flashes one glory far and wide.

Never by plash of cleaving oar
The dreary long lagoons are stirred;
The rollers on the sun-bleached shore
Beat out their mighty songs unheard.
The rounding fruit in plenty here
Ripens untended, year by year.

High set upon the western hill,
Twin lofty palm-trees watchful stand,
That keep unending vigil still
O'er silent cliff and untrod sand.
Nightly they show, when daylight dies,
Dark spires against the saffron skies.

Where dense the hanging tendrils grow
The remnants of a galleon lie
(The only monuments to show
How humankind has e'er come nigh);
Some vessel seeking gems and gold
In wild adventurous days of old.

The waters of the dark lagoon
Lap softly round her mouldering keel,
And creepers hang in wild festoon
From broken mast and lichened wheel,
And in the gilded figure-head
Bright-breasted songsters make their bed.

Deep in the darkness of the hold
Where beams and nails have fallen away,
Flash gleams of light from hard-won gold,
And one great ruby's crimson ray,
That seems as if some tropic bloom
Had budded in the faint-lit gloom.

The white bones lie about the deck
Of those who trod it long ago,
And little, lying there, they reek
Of that forgotten hoard below;
Their lifelong quest of wonders past;
Their joys, their sorrows ceased at last.

Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010

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