THE white reflection of the sloop’s great sail
Sleeps trembling on the tide,
In scarlet shirts her crew lean o’er the rail,
Lounging on either side.
Pale blue and streaked with pearl the waters lie,
And glitter in the heat;
The distance gathers purple bloom where sky
And glimmering coast-line meet.
From the cove’s curving rim of sandy gray
The ebbing tide has drained,
Where, mournful, in the dusk of yesterday
The curlew’s voice complained.
Half lost in hot mirage the sails afar
Lie dreaming, still and white;
No wave breaks, no wind breathes, the peace to mar,
Summer is at its height.
How many thousand summers thus have shone
Across the ocean waste,
Passing in swift succession, one by one,
By the fierce winter chased !
The gray rocks blushing soft at dawn and eve,
The green leaves at their feet,
The dreaming sails, the crying birds that grieve,
Ever themselves repeat.
And yet how dear and how forever fair
Is Nature’s friendly face,
And how forever new and sweet and rare
Each old familiar grace!
What matters it that she will sing and smile
When we are dead and still?
Let us be happy in her beauty while
Our hearts have power to thrill.
Let us rejoice in every moment bright,
Grateful that it is ours;
Bask in her smiles with ever fresh delight,
And gather all her flowers;
For presently we part: what will avail
Her rosy fires of dawn,
Her noontide pomps, to us, who fade and fail,
Our hands from hers withdrawn?
Celia Thaxter.