MIDWAY the height of one sheer granite rock
I sat in face of the barbarian sea,
And heard the god, out of the dreadful, deep,
Midmost Atlantic summoning strength, and here,
In accents clear above the sullen roar
Of all his waves, condemn the jutting world.
“ Populous Egypt was a realm and ruled
By men that strove when Greece was yet unborn.
I strive not, yet is Pharaoh deep in death,
And still the seas sweep unappeased and new.
Kings were ere Priam. Knew ye not ? I hold
The substance, in my swift and solvent brine,
Of all the race since Adam, and of strange,
Unfeatured men ere Paradise. And I
Sang to them all, and cradled them, and drank
Their breath, their dust, their family and fame.
Earth the grain-giver in my hands I hold,
And if I will I love, and if I will
Hate, and I know no master but the sun,
Who drinks the years up in a thin blue flame.
From me the rivers and the rain from me
Lead down their due-returning silver streams
In circuit just; and all the gulfs are mine
Beneath the earth that echo of the deep.
Laugh, then, be glad ! E’en though I swallow down,
To rock upon my oozy floor, the hulls
Of odd ten thousand hurrying ships. They swell
And mantle o’er with all the amorous life
Ye reck not of, and in a year are gone.
Laugh and be glad ! Tremble and fear! I beat
Beneath the shining forward of the dawn,
The dim high noon, and the red stars at night,
Daylight and dark forever I beat, I beat,
Indefatigably reiterant,
The bulwarks of the shore, daylight and dark,
With the blue night about me, and the dawn.”
On billow billow rolling, in the press
Confounded of the furious, following surge,
Thunders the Deep, intolerant and sublime ;
Gray-heart and grim to spurn of this black rock
The temerarious front, and here to wrench
The frame of earth aside before the sea.
P. H. Savage.