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The Oceanides, Edited by Judith Pascoe

 

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ADDRESS TO THE DEEP.

By Mrs. Fletcher, (late Miss Jewsbury).

WONDROUS , fearful restless Sea,
What have I to do with thee?
Thou so strong, and I so weak,
Ev’n when health is on my cheek;
Now so worn, and sad withal,
Sense of life but sense of thrall;
REST , sole pleasure I would keep,
In the guise of slumber deep;
Yes, but let it dreamless be—
Day hath dreams enough for me,
Ever the vain memory haunting,
Till the vainer heart is panting
After all those visions dear,
So far off, and yet so near—
Roses wet with summer dew,
And the dwellings where they grew,
Many a healthy mountain walk,
Many an evening’s fire-light talk,
Held with friends—no more, no more,
Ocean, let thy boiling roar
Hide in pity from my ear,
Voices, but too kind and dear.

Wild, ferocious, wrathful Sea,
What have I to do with thee?
Never, never won to spare,
Death thy banquet; and despair
With its agonizing cry,
Famine with its horrid eye,
Human misery, human sin,
That which thou delightest in;
Journeying ever, yet unsped;
Still devouring, yet unfed;
With thy dull or deafening roar,
Ever asking, craving more!
Giant of the thousand hands,
Prisoning many lovely lands—
Isles, that midst thy bitter brine,
Harbourless in verdure pine,
Blessing no man, blessed by none—
O that thy dark reign were done!
And thy angel-sentenced doom
Left the world a world of bloom,
And of perfect brotherhood;
Man no more athirst for blood,
Thou, no more, dire element,
Brotherhood’s admeasurement!

Gloomy, weary, restless Sea,
Yes, I have to do with thee;
Not on frame, nor yet in power,
But on evil’s sadder dower:
Have I called thee one dark name
Human spirits may not claim?
Have I blamed in thee a deed
Human nature doth not breed?—
Named one ravage wrought by thee,
Man hath never mated?—Sea,
Deathful, terrible, and strong,
God’s great work, I did thee wrong;
Thou but smit’st at his command—
Thou the weapon, His the hand.
Art thou passive, Human Will?
Answer, human grief and ill!


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Published @ RC

November 2003