Cicely Fox Smith

(1 February 1882 – 8 April 1954 / Lymm, Cheshire)

The Unchanged - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

When all this maniac dream is overpast,
And earth from her nightmare wakes at last,
Marred beyond thinking, seamed by many a scar -
Where shall we turn to find no trace of war,
No age-old beauty shattered in an hour
(Grey wall and traceried arch and soaring tower),
No sanctuary despoiled or tumbled spire,
No splintered woodland swept and seared by fire,
Or ravaged beach, or crater-pitted down,
Or last remotest isle mourning her fronded crown?

The sea - the sea remains; through all the same,
Eternal, cold, unchanged, whence all life came,
Her chill indifferent beauty takes no heed
Of faith and valour, anger and fear and greed,
Tossing aside as unconsidered things
The pride of navies and the pomp of kings,
Yet bearing safe through whatso storms may batter
The frail small shell a finger's touch might shatter. . . .

Still shall her tides wherever tides shall run
Darken and gleam in shadow and in sun,
Still to the south her charging squadrons roll
In endless crested splendour round the Pole,
And still her bergs from the cold north set free
Melt in the Gulf Stream, mingle with the sea;
Still, still her tropic bird with vigilant eye
Scan the wide emptiness of sea and sky,
And find between the twain nor less nor more
Of last night's tempest than of six years' war;
And all the nations' grief and the world's trouble
Pass like a bird's passing . . . a cloud's shadow . . . a breaking bubble . . .

Still, as through countless centuries, come and go
Sunsets and dawns . . . and only memory know
How lost, how loved, the dead who sleep below.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010

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