Menella Bute Smedley

A Sea-Side Fancy

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A child stood by the rising sea
On a dismal winter's morning,
And dream'd what coming life might be,
And sigh'd o'er the voice of warning.
The distant shores with snow were white,
Grey shadows scatter'd o'er them,
And a tawny sail had caught the light,
As it slowly pass'd before them.
But the broken gleams went trembling by,
Pallid, and cold, and frail,
Like sleet-drops loosen'd from the sky,
And dying upon the gale.
“O! will my joys, thus dim and few,
By gathering tears half-drown'd,
Gild but a passing shape or two,
And deepen the darkness round?

“With mast aslope and with curving sheet
Two barks are scudding fast;
They pause, they turn, they seem to greet,
Then flit in a moment past.
“Will Love and Hope thus swiftly dart
O'er my cheerless, cold existence,
Doom'd, even ere they meet, to part,
And speaking but from a distance?
“Will Thought be wing'd by Memory,
Like the flight of yon wheeling bird,
Which still comes back with a plaintive cry
To the spot whence first it stirr'd?
“Will the voice that breathes in my heart's deep cells
Be like this murmuring sea;
A ceaseless voice, but which never swells
To a perfect melody?
“And, as men watch yon rocking boat
While it changes from light to dark,
Will they watch my life as it lies afloat,
While I shiver and toil in the bark?

“And will that bark on the billows slide
Adrift, a helpless wreck—”
Child! thou hast dream'd by a rising tide,
And the wave is at thy neck.
O! may thy strife be quickly o'er,
And when the waves retreat,
O! may'st thou lie on a pleasant shore
With flowers about thy feet!
Or if the cold wind still must blow,
And the winter sky frown o'er thee,
May sunset turn yon heights of snow
Into lamps of living glory!

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Menella Bute Smedley