Sea and Woods

 

To an Ocean-Loving Poet Friend

 

I. Sea

 

There’s something restless, ceaseless in this wind—

A something craving cover from flung spray

Of salt on thrashed, bald-battered spits of sand

That says, “Oh child of bowers, do not stay.”

 

What’s here, what’s here but tranced simplicity—

These sun-beat laterals? No hold

To ease this endless scape of sand, sea, sky,

And groaning litany of thrust and fold—

 

The crest and crash of waves. Here, screaming sun,

Unchecked by brush or branch or building’s guard,

Finds just the wash and wrack of things undone:

Split stones, shorn shelly fragments—haggard, hard.

 

Walking across this weather-racked expanse

Of minimums, with wavelets at my feet:

They come, they cede—they do that lapping dance,

Slapping a bit, then foaming in retreat

 

Again. Then, trudging up, I bear the blaze

Of beach; proceed with steps on soft-piled sand,

Unsure where to—no landmarks meet my gaze:

I shuffle simply, sinking in dry land.

 

II. To My Poet Friend

 

Where, lady, is the poetry in this?

The squirming olive seaweeds’ tangled slop

Cannot boast grandeur, nor with honor kiss

The humblest woodland wildweed! Why not drop

 

Your paeans to these “agate miles of beach;”

To plovers and the “rushing golds of swells”?

Their glamor teases, in and out of reach—

Fleeting as fresco-painting in pastels.

 

 

III. Woods

 

I fly for succor toward a rustling wood

Where, round a shaded path through prickly pine,

And poplar, filtered light slips—soft and good,

Tickling a quaint, meandering vine…

 

Oh endless wonder pressed in sheltered spheres!

In lowlands, reeds rise clustered in the air

About a stream-pool, where the water clears

And every cell breathes—cooling, fresh, and rare.

 

On higher ground, calm shadows intermix

With intricate designs of quiet forms:

Here, lichen-covered rocks hide bending sticks

Above the burbling wetlands’ caddis swarms.

 

Beyond a northern incline, oaken spires

Rise with poplar high in hallowed halls

Bedraped in moss, and stirring avian choirs

Steak through the humid air with fluting calls.

 

In wending inlands, vigor’s sunk its roots—

Through lowland, highland, all the forests’ ground;

In woods, God’s hand of grace is most astute—

Here Muses prosper—graceful, tall, and crowned!

 

Envoy

 

For sure, the Spirit’s strength suffuses all,

Out from the brakes and into strands of bare

Wide ocean; lady, help me feel that thrall

In seas’ wide spheres—which you proclaim so rare!

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