Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel

(1834-1894 / England)

The Swimmer - Poem by Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel

Yonder, lo! the tide is flowing;
Clamber, while the breeze is blowing,
Down to where a soft foam flusters
Dulse and fairy feathery clusters!
While it fills the shelly hollows,
A swift sister billow follows,
Leaps in hurrying with the tide,
Seems the lingering wave to chide;
Both push on with eager life,
And a gurgling show of strife.
O the salt, refreshing air
Shrilly blowing in the hair!
A keen, healthful savour haunts
Sea-shell, sea-flower, and sea-plants.
Innocent billows on the strand
Leave a crystal over sand,
Whose thin ebbing soon is crossed
By a crystal foam-enmossed,
Variegating silver-grey
Shell-empetalled sand in play:
When from sand dries off the brine,
Vanishes swift shadow fine;
But a wet sand is a glass
Where the plumy cloudlets pass,
Floating islands of the blue,
Tender, shining, fair, and true.

Who would linger idle,
Dallying would lie,
When wind and wave, a bridal
Celebrating, fly?
Let him plunge among them,
Who hath wooed enough,
Flirted with them, sung them,
In the salt sea-trough
He may win them, onward
On a buoyant crest,
Far to seaward, sunward,
Ocean-borne to rest!
Wild wind will sing over him,
And the free foam cover him,
Swimming seaward, sunward,
On a blithe sea-breast!
On a blithe sea-bosom
Swims another too,
Swims a live sea-blossom,
A grey-winged sea-mew!
Grape-green all the waves are,
By whose hurrying line
Half of ships and caves are
Buried under brine;
Supple, shifting ranges
Lucent at the crest,
With pearly surface-changes
Never laid to rest:
Now a dipping gunwale
Momently he sees,
Now a fuming funnel,
Or red flag in the breeze;
Arms flung open wide,
Lip the laughing sea;
For playfellow, for bride,
Claim her impetuously!
Triumphantly exult with all the free,
Buoyant bounding splendour of the sea!
And if while on the billow
Wearily he lay,
His awful wild playfellow
Filled his mouth with spray,
Reft him of his breath,
To some far realms away
He would float with Death;
Wild wind would sing over him,
And the free foam cover him,
Waft him sleeping onward,
Floating seaward, sunward,
All alone with Death;
In a realm of wondrous dreams,
And shadow-haunted ocean gleams!

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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