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Walter Richard Cassels

(1826-1907 / England)

A Shell


From what rock-hollow'd cavern deep in ocean,
Where jagged columns break the billow's beat,
Whirl'd upward by some wild mid-world commotion,
Has this rose-tinted shell steer'd to my feet?

Perchance the wave that bore it has rejoiced
Above Man's founder'd hopes, and shatter'd pride,
Whilst fierce Euroclydon swept, trumpet-voiced,
Through the frail spars, and hurl'd them in the tide,
And the lost seamen floated at its side!

Ah! thus too oft do Woe and Beauty meet,
Swept onward by the self-same tide of fate,
The bitter following swift upon the sweet,
Close, close together, yet how separate!

Frail waif from the sublime storm-shaken sea,
Thou seem'st the childhood toy of some old king,
Who 'mid the shock of nations lights on thee,
And instant backward do his thoughts take wing
To the unclouded days of infancy;
Then, sighing, thus away the foolish joy doth fling.

Forth from thine inner chambers come there out
Low murmurs of sweet mystic melodies,
Old Neptune's couch winding lone caves about,
In tones that faintly through the waves arise,
And steal to mortal ears in softest sighs.

The poet dreams of olden ages flowing
Through the time-ocean to the listening soul,
Ages when from each fountain clear and glowing,
Unto the spirit Naiad voices stole.

And still, from earth and sea, there ever pealeth
A voice far softer than leal lover's lay,
Bearing the heart, o'er which its true sense stealeth,
Far to diviner dreams of joy away,
And to the wisdom of a riper day.

Submitted: Monday, October 11, 2010

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