The Seven Seas

I NEVER sailed the Seven Seas, but I have seen
Seas, seven and more,
Bring wonder, recurrent and new, to the English shore.
From a sea where the light spread like oil, golden and bland,
I have seen the sun rise; and three cormorants flying
Trailed their thin, wavering shadows over the dun sand
And troubled the dawn with their crying.
As mild as a bowl of milk and scarcely deeper
Was the sea at morning — but the sea that swallowed
The sun’s red globe in its amethystine waters
Plunged to the roots of the mountains and hollowed
The rocky bases of earth, and her fragile columns
Trembled beneath the onslaught of the waters.
Seas under rain, pock-marked and heaving slow
Beneath the purple fringes of the sky —
Those plumy heads laid low
That tossed their creamy ribbons high
When the curled breakers made
An emerald arcade
And in the falling foam there hung the iridian bow —
Seas under rain: I have seen them, subdued and mild,
With tentative fingers groping along the beach,
As if they sought to reach
A refuge from the steely arrow, the flung lance; And earth’s old strife with sea was reconciled
Before the menace of the stealthy skies’ advance.
But those sad, tractable seas have changed, have spread
To a wan horizon, infinitely far,
Impassable as space dividing star from star.
I have watched a ship, forlorn, and dim,
Sinking slowly over the world’s rim,
And known the living more remote and lonelier than the dead.
Green seas and purple, white and blue,
I have seen them, all the year through,
Heard their changing symphonies, and known
The under and the over tone.
I have seen faërie seas beneath the moon,
And a silver sea on Christmas afternoon
Suddenly spread before us, as we came
Along the frost-bound road where the poplars stood
Like sentinels; a sea of silver flame
Enkindled from the heavenly mood
That filled the winter air with psaltery, and lent
The Magian star to light the firmament.