David MacDonald Ross

(1865 / Australia)

The Sea to the Shell


The sea, my mother, is singing to me,
   She is singing the old refrain,
Of passion, of love, and of mystery,
   And her world-old song of pain;
Of the mirk midnight and the dazzling day,
That trail their robes o'er the wet sea-way.

The sea, my mother, is singing to me
   With the white foam caught in her hair,
With the seaweed swinging its long arms free,
   To grapple the blown sea air:
The sea, my mother, with billowy swell,
Is telling her tale to the wave-washed shell.

The sea, my mother, is singing to me,
   With the starry gleam in her wave,
A dirge of the dead, of the sad, sad sea,
   A requiem song of the brave;
Tenderly, sadly, the surges tell
Their tale of death to the wave-washed shell.

The sea, my mother, confides to me,
   As she turns to the soft, round moon,
The secrets that lie where the spirits be,
   That hide from the garish noon:
The sea, my mother, who loves me well,
Is telling their woe to the wave-washed shell.

O mother o' mine, with the foam-flecked hair,
   O mother, I love and know
The heart that is sad and the soul that is bare
   To your daughter of ebb and flow;
And I hold your whispers of Heaven and Hell
In the loving heart of a wave-washed shell.

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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