Sun And Shadow Poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Sun And Shadow

Rating: 3.1

As I look from the isle, o'er its billows of green,
To the billows of foam-crested blue,
Yon bark, that afar in the distance is seen,
Half dreaming, my eyes will pursue:
Now dark in the shadow, she scatters the spray
As the chaff in the stroke of the flail;
Now white as the sea-gull, she flies on her way,
The sun gleaming bright on her sail.

Yet her pilot is thinking of dangers to shun,--
Of breakers that whiten and roar;
How little he cares, if in shadow or sun
They see him who gaze from the shore!
He looks to the beacon that looms from the reef,
To the rock that is under his lee,
As he drifts on the blast, like a wind-wafted leaf,
O'er the gulfs of the desolate sea.

Thus drifting afar to the dim-vaulted caves
Where life and its ventures are laid,
The dreamers who gaze while we battle the waves
May see us in sunshine or shade;
Yet true to our course, though the shadows grow dark,
We'll trim our broad sail as before,
And stand by the rudder that governs the bark,
Nor ask how we look from the shore!

Carlos Echeverria 13 March 2012

The wave-like shape and rhythm of the lines coincide with the movements of a ship at sea.

6 23 Reply
Robert Edwards 13 March 2010

i like your use of words and the format of the poem but too much was goin on and i didnt get the message

5 17 Reply
Michael Pruchnicki 13 March 2010

You can stand on the shore and admire the scene, the speaker says, as though it were an oil painting hanging before you on the wall! There she sails through the buffeting waves, a tall ship majestic in its glory, the sun-sparkled waves dancing! But imagine yourself piloting that ship, the speaker cautions, and your viewpoint is bound to include all the hidden dangers that lurk beneath that choppy sea. Then you are not aware of spectators and you don't care about what the ship looks like to the one who merely stands and observes. You must be alert and earnest in your duty to pilot the vessel through thick and thin. Life is like that, the speaker intimates, the best laid plans must be executed with due diligence. Those who merely gaze on the sight, beautiful or rousing though it be, cannot know the reality of life's challenges!

9 13 Reply
Kevin Straw 13 March 2011

The level of this poem is equivalent to the painting of a Sunday painter.

8 12 Reply
Joseph Poewhit 13 March 2010

Poem brings home the glory of the era, of wooden sail ships. [ wooden ships and iron men ]

9 11 Reply
andja vujkov 22 August 2018

I searched for this poem for ten years and finally I have found it.I an now content to say I found the it thank you mr.holmes I love your style

2 0 Reply
David L. Hatton 13 March 2014

The tests and tasks of life are tough; we get through them best by a determined focus to meet the challenges, not to greet the spectators.

9 3 Reply
Eva Golden 13 March 2014

Makes me think of a dreamer, always imagining different scenes but always looking from the shore.

8 4 Reply
Jennifer Chalk 13 March 2012

This is my dream of our reality, perfect!

10 8 Reply
Like A Boss 13 March 2012

Can't understand it!

9 8 Reply
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