(Off Long Island Sound)

Between the shore and the distant sky-lands,
    Where a ship's dim shape seems etched on space,
There lies this cluster of lovely islands,
    Like laughing mermaids grouped in grace.

I look out over the waves and wonder,
    Are they not sirens who dwell in the sea?
When the tide runs high they dip down under
    Like mirthful bathers who sport in glee.

When the tide runs low they lift their shoulders
    Above the billows and gaily spread
Their soft green garments along the boulders
    Of grim grey granite that form their bed.

Close by the group, in sheltered places,
    Many a ship at anchor lies,
And drinks the charm of their smiling faces,
    As lover's drink smiles from maiden's eyes.

But true to the harsh and stern old ocean,
    As maids in a harem are true to one,
They give him all of their heart's devotion,
    Though wooed for ever by moon and sun.

A ship sails on that has bravely waded
    Through foaming billows to sue in vain;
A whip-poor-will flies that has serenaded
    And sung unanswered his plaintive strain.

In the sea's great arms I see them lying,
    Bright and beaming and fond and fair,
While the jealous July day is dying
    In a crimson fury of mad despair.

The desolate moon drifts slowly over,
    And covers its face with the lace of a cloud,
While the sea, like a glad triumphant lover,
    Clasps close his islands and laughs aloud.

Poetical works of Ella Wheeler Wilcox. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Edinburgh : W. P. Nimmo, Hay, & Mitchell, 1917.

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