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Roderic Quinn

(1867 - 1949 / Australia)


YOU with the shell to your ear,
What do you hear,
Slim and so white
In the moonlight?
'Oh, I hear surging and shouting and singing,
The sea-folk at market — their little bells ringing,
The tall weeds about them, the green world above!
Oh, blithe are the pedlars of ribbons and laces,
Yet blither and sweeter upon the wide spaces
The footfalls of Love!'
You with the shell to your ear,
What do you hear,
Waves at your feet,
White and so sweet?
'Oh, I hear cooing and kissing and cooing,
The sound of sea-folk in their coral groves wooing,
The red branches round them, the green world above!
Oh, sweet are the songs of the witching sea-daughters,
But sweeter, far sweeter, upon the wide waters,
The footfalls of Love!'
You with the shell to your ear,
What do you hear,
Large eyes aglow,
Forehead of snow?
'Oh, I hear shouting and sobbing and sighing,
The sounds of the sea-folk in battle-rage vieing,
The torn weeds about them, the green world above!
The merman may shout as he stumbles and slaughters,
But, ever and ever, I hear on the waters
The footfalls of Love!'
You with the shell to your ear,
What do you hear,
As you stand there,
Pale and so fair?
'Oh, as frost on the seaways the foam-spaces glisten;
My heart is the shell, to its echoes I listen;
Red petals, rose petals around and above!
Oh sweeter, far sweeter, than little bells ringing
Or market-men shouting, or mermaidens singing,
The footfalls of Love!'

Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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