Seas, Ships and Shores

The Inland of the Middle West
Are far from sounding seas;
And where my early years were spent
Not even running rivers lent
Their music to the breeze.
That oftimes mocked the green-hued main
When summer decked the leas.

Yet alway in those early years
I felt a sweet unrest;
And deep within the heart of me
There was a longing for the sea:
The reindeer in my breast
Seemed ever eager to set forth,
As reindeers in the snowbound north
Make once their briny quest

It must have been the voice of Love
That this strange longing stirred:
For when I found the sea one day
It was dear Love that led the way,
And they became one word.
And all life's joy was made thereof,
When once that voice I heard.

Now oceans, islands, sounds and seas
And ports where vessels lie,
And harbours where they sail away
And surging billows decked in spray
Where wide-winged sea-gulls fly,
And beaches where the bathers rove
All, all are properties of Love
With their blue-arching sky.

The glaciers and majestic Alps,
The mountains filled with ore,
The cities with their mighty throngs
Are yours but unto me belongs
To Love and me, each shore'
Where all the billows of the world
By God's tremendous hand are hurled
And ours is all their store.

We sailed and sailed and sailed again
Our wonder seas of earth:
We sailed to every port and clime,
We laughed at danger and at time,
And life was full of mirth;
And joy was in our sea-girt home
And when we roamed, joy, too, would roam
And bunk beside our berth.

But one May night Love sailed away
Across the Mystic Sea:
I know not why he went alone
To some far harbour all unknown,
Nor how this thing could be
That suddenly he should embark
On that strange vessel in the dark
Without one call to me.

Love left me all the seas of earth
And all their cargoed ships:
And memories within each hold
More precious than a mine of gold.
But joy is in eclipse,
And must be, till I too enroll
On that same ship, and my freed soul
From out the Harbour slips.

And though all seas and ships are mine
By right of Love made so,
Yet when that Craft that came at night
Shall come again for my delight
Is not for me to know.
I only know I cannot fail
To see at last its splendid sail,
And leap on board, and go.

Sonnets of sorrow and triumph. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
New York: George H. Doran, 1918.

Back to Poem Index