Elinor Morton Wylie

(7 September 1885 – 16 December 1928 / Somerville, New Jersey)

Sea Lullaby - Poem by Elinor Morton Wylie

The old moon is tarnished
With smoke of the flood,
The dead leaves are varnished
With colour like blood.

A treacherous smiler
With teeth white as milk,
A savage beguiler
In sheathings of silk

The sea creeps to pillage,
She leaps on her prey;
A child of the village
Was murdered today.

She came up to meet him
In a smooth golden cloak,
She choked him and beat him
to death, for a joke.

Her bright locks were tangled,
She shouted for joy
With one hand she strangled
A strong little boy.

Now in silence she lingers
Beside him all night
To wash her long fingers
In silvery light.


Comments about Sea Lullaby by Elinor Morton Wylie

  • Gold Star - 13,409 Points Terry Craddock (10/16/2014 4:53:00 PM)

    Wow a 'Sea Lullaby' where the sea lures us in, the reader with the light of the moon upon reflective waters, lures a small boy in with a smooth golden cloak then choked him and beat him/ to death, for a joke. The personification of the sea as bright locks... tangled, (as) She shouted for joy/ With one hand she strangled/ A strong little boy illuminates a savage glee in claiming the life of a small child.
    From the opening two stanzas

    The old moon is tarnished
    With smoke of the flood,
    The dead leaves are varnished
    With colour like blood.

    A treacherous smiler
    With teeth white as milk,
    A savage beguiler
    In sheathings of silk

    to the turn and vicious entrapment of prey like a spider leaping upon a fly in a web

    The sea creeps to pillage,
    She leaps on her prey;
    A child of the village
    Was murdered today.

    the poem lures us in with a bewildering choice of themes and visual images. The last lines add other dimensions with the eerie beauty of in the concluding lines

    Now in silence she lingers
    Beside him all night
    To wash her long fingers
    In silvery light. (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Silver Star - 3,852 Points John Richter (10/16/2014 3:18:00 PM)

    Perfectly eerie for this fine fall! The artist's form is almost completely unbroken:

    A: 6 syllables
    B: 5 syllables
    C: 6 syllables
    D: 5 syllables

    Bar ump bar rump bar rump,
    Bar ump bee bar ump...

    Artistic license allows the word murdered to be pronounced in 3 syllables, but golden should have been gold to make this poem absolutely form perfect. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 439 Points Willian Menuci (10/16/2014 11:52:00 AM)

    Just lovely!
    Funny how It sounds pleasent to the ears,
    Such a masterpiece! (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 1,599 Points Kay Staley (10/16/2014 8:05:00 AM)

    Fun to read; horrifying energy. I love how the author characterizes the sea and makes it into a human form. Very fascinating and will stick with the reader for quite a long time. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 127 Points Raluca Mitra (10/16/2014 6:07:00 AM)

    The sea embracing death! Fantastic imagery, indeed. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 39,733 Points Aftab Alam Khursheed (10/16/2014 3:16:00 AM)

    As the title sea lullaby...the beauty of keepeth the wrath, the death..death by waves..lovely imagery is very perfect (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 184 Points Brian Jani (5/13/2014 12:46:00 PM)

    Elinor Amazing poetic skills here (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 866 Points Liliana ~el (10/16/2013 9:32:00 PM)

    Fantastic imagery; chilling, haunting, puts me on edge; a dangerous beauty! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Mc Donald (10/16/2012 7:35:00 PM)

    Inspired. You should check mine. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 184 Points Karen Sinclair (10/16/2012 2:45:00 AM)

    Beautiful in its reflective nature, and gentle simplicity...i love the visuals lain down by words of a lady with a wonderful imagination.... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 249 Points Ann Beard (11/24/2008 9:37:00 PM)

    A poem I come back to over and over again. A favourite, Regards Ann (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Jon Jiles (11/22/2008 4:15:00 PM)

    i love this poem its so creative and visonary (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Aimee Pruitt (2/24/2008 9:32:00 PM)

    I LOVE this poem! I will never look at the sea the same again. (Report) Reply

Read all 13 comments »




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Read poems about / on: today, silence, child, moon, joy, sea, death, light, night, murder, children



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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