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.
 
Appendix I. Early and Uncollected Verses
Ocean
 
UNFATHOMED deep, unfetter’d waste
  Of never-silent waves,
Each by its rushing follower chas’d,
  Through unillumin’d caves,
And o’er the rocks whose turrets rude,        5
  E’en since the birth of time,
Have heard amid thy solitude
  The billow’s ceaseless chime.
 
O’er what recesses, depths unknown,
  Dost thou thy waves impel,        10
Where never yet a sunbeam shone,
  Or gleam of moonlight fell?
For never yet did mortal eyes
  Thy gloom-wrapt deeps behold,
And naught of thy dread mysteries        15
  The tongue of man hath told.
 
What, though proud man presume to hold
  His course upon thy tide,
O’er thy dark billows uncontroll’d
  His fragile bark to guide—        20
Yet who, upon thy mountain waves,
  Can feel himself secure
While sweeping o’er thy yawning caves,
  Deep, awful and obscure?
 
But thou art mild and tranquil now—        25
  Thy wrathful spirits sleep,
And gentle billows, calm and slow,
  Across thy bosom sweep.
Yet where the dim horizon’s bound
  Rests on thy sparkling bed,        30
The tempest-cloud, in gloom profound,
  Prepares its wrath to shed.
 
Thus, mild and calm in youth’s bright hour
  The tide of life appears,
When fancy paints, with magic spell,        35
  The bliss of coming years;
But clouds will rise, and darkness bring
  O’er life’s deceitful way,
And cruel disappointment fling
  Its shade on hope’s dim ray.

  1st mo., 1827.
        40
 
 
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