Rafe's Chasm

Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

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White fire upon the gray-green waste of waves,
The low light of the breaker flares. Ah, see!
Outbursting on a sky of steel and ice,
The baffled sun stabs wildly at the gale.
The water rises like a god aglow,
Who all too long hath slept, and dreamed too sure,
And finds his goddess fled his empty arms.
Silent, the mighty cliff receives at last
That rage of elemental tenderness,
The old, omnipotent caress she knows.
Yet once the solid earth did melt for her
And, pitying, made retreat before her flight;
Would she have hidden her forever there?
Or did she, wavering, linger long enough
To let the accustomed torrent chase her down?
Over the neck of the gorge,
I cling. Lean desperately!
He who feared a chasm's edge
Were never the one to see
The torment and the triumph hid
Where the deep surges be.
I pierce the gulf; I sweep the coast
Where wide the tide swings free;
I search as never soul sought before.
There is not patience enough in all the shore,
There is not passion enough in all the sea,
To tell my love for thee.

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