At summer eve,
as I sat on the cliff,
I marked a shape like a dusky skiff,
That skimmed the brine, toward the rocky shore—
I heard a voice in the surge’s roar—
I saw a form in the flashing spray,
And white arms beckoned me away.
Away o’er the tide we went together,
Through shade and mist and stormy weather—
Away, away, o’er the lonely water,
On wings of thought like shadows we flew,
Nor paused ’mid scenes of wreck and slaughter,
That came from the blackened waves to view.
The staggering ship to the gale we left,
The drifting corse and the vacant boat;
The ghastly swimmer all hope bereft—
We left them there on the sea to float!
Through mist and shade and stormy weather,
That night we went to the icy Pole,
And there on the rocks we stood together,
And saw the ocean before us roll.
No moon shone down on the hermit sea,
No cheering beacon illumed the shore,
No ship on the water, no light on the lea,
No sound in the ear but the billow’s roar!
But the wave was bright, as if lit with pearls,
And fearful things on its bosom played;
Huge crakens circled in foamy whirls,
As if the deep for their sport was made,
And mighty whales through the crystal dashed,
And upward sent the far glittering spray,
Till the darkened sky with the radiance flashed,
And pictured in glory the wild array.[A]
Hast thou seen the deep in
the moonlight beam,
Its wave like a maiden’s bosom swelling?
Hast thou seen the stars in the water’s gleam,
As if its depths were their holy dwelling?
We met more beautiful scenes that night,
As we slid along in our spirit-car,
For we crossed the South Sea, and, ere the light,
We doubled Cape Horn on a shooting star.
In our way we stooped o’er a moonlit isle,
Which the fairies had built in the lonely sea,
And the Surf Sprite’s brow was bent with a smile,
As we gazed through the mist on their revelry.
The ripples that swept to the pebbly shore,
O’er shells of purple in wantonness played,
And the whispering zephyrs sweet odors bore,
From roses that bloomed amid silence and shade.
In winding grottos, with gems all bright,
Soft music trembled from harps unseen,
And fair forms glided on wings of light,
’Mid forests of fragrance, and valleys of green.
There were voices of gladness the heart to beguile,
And glances of beauty too fond to be true—
For the Surf Sprite shrieked, and the Fairy Isle,
By the breath of the tempest was swept from our view.