Verse > John Greenleaf Whittier > The Poetical Works in Four Volumes
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John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892).  The Poetical Works in Four Volumes.  1892.
 
Poems of Nature
Hampton Beach
 
  THE SUNLIGHT glitters keen and bright,
      Where, miles away,
  Lies stretching to my dazzled sight
  A luminous belt, a misty light,
Beyond the dark pine bluffs and wastes of sandy gray.        5
 
  The tremulous shadow of the Sea!
      Against its ground
  Of silvery light, rock, hill, and tree,
  Still as a picture, clear and free,
With varying outline mark the coast for miles around.        10
 
  On—on—we tread with loose-flung rein
      Our seaward way,
  Through dark-green fields and blossoming grain,
  Where the wild brier-rose skirts the lane,
And bends above our heads the flowering locust spray.        15
 
  Ha! like a kind hand on my brow
      Comes this fresh breeze,
  Cooling its dull and feverish glow,
  While through my being seems to flow
The breath of a new life, the healing of the seas!        20
 
  Now rest we, where this grassy mound
      His feet hath set
  In the great waters, which have bound
  His granite ankles greenly round
With long and tangled moss, and weeds with cool spray wet.        25
 
  Good-by to Pain and Care! I take
      Mine ease to-day:
  Here where these sunny waters break,
  And ripples this keen breeze, I shake
All burdens from the heart, all weary thoughts away.        30
 
  I draw a freer breath, I seem
      Like all I see—
  Waves in the sun, the white-winged gleam
  Of sea-birds in the slanting beam,
And far-off sails which flit before the south-wind free.        35
 
  So when Time’s veil shall fall asunder,
      The soul may know
  No fearful change, nor sudden wonder,
  Nor sink the weight of mystery under,
But with the upward rise, and with the vastness grow.        40
 
  And all we shrink from now may seem
      No new revealing;
  Familiar as our childhood’s stream,
  Or pleasant memory of a dream
The loved and cherished Past upon the new life stealing.        45
 
  Serene and mild the untried light
      May have its dawning;
  And, as in summer’s northern night
  The evening and the dawn unite,
The sunset hues of Time blend with the soul’s new morning.        50
 
  I sit alone; in foam and spray
      Wave after wave
  Breaks on the rocks which, stern and gray,
  Shoulder the broken tide away,
Or murmurs hoarse and strong through mossy cleft and cave.        55
 
  What heed I of the dusty land
      And noisy town?
  I see the mighty deep expand
  From its white line of glimmering sand
To where the blue of heaven on bluer waves shuts down!        60
 
  In listless quietude of mind,
      I yield to all
  The change of cloud and wave and wind
  And passive on the flood reclined,
I wander with the waves, and with them rise and fall.        65
 
But look, thou dreamer! wave and shore
      In shadow lie;
  The night-wind warns me back once more
  To where, my native hill-tops o’er,
Bends like an arch of fire the glowing sunset sky.        70
 
  So then, beach, bluff, and wave, farewell!
      I bear with me
  No token stone nor glittering shell,
  But long and oft shall Memory tell
Of this brief thoughtful hour of musing by the Sea.

  1843.
        75
 
 
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