[from Collected Works, T.E.Brown]
I LOVE to kiss thy feet
With tend'rest lip of wave,
To feel that thou art big and brave,
And beautiful and strong;
Nor any glare of lightning-sheet,
Nor thunder-crash, nor all the storms that rave
Combined, avail to do thee wrong.
Bare-breasted to the blast,
Thou art at grips with him
Steadfast, yet through each awful limb
I feel the rock-veins start,
And muscular thrillings darkly passed,
And rigid throes, and a pulsation dim,
And all the working of thy heart.
Me too he smites I quiver,
Yet, 'neath the scourge, to thee
I cling, and kiss thee in an agony,
Of thy great love secure
Love that is helpless to deliver,
Only it strengthens, whisp'ring unto me :
"Endure, O friend! " and I endure.
Dear thus ; but even dearer
When on my waveless breast,
Smoothed glassy in a mirrored trance of rest,
Thy perfect shadow sleeps,
And, waxing clearer still and clearer,
Limns its fine edge till, all of thee possessed,
I faint within my yearning deeps.
Once, when the world was young,
To us at least unknown
All law of severance that dooms thee lone,
And me forbids to rise ;
When first I felt thy shadow flung,
I thought thyself descended from thy throne
To bless me with a swift surprise.
Fond thought! but mine no more;
Ah, no! it was not thou !
The beldame years have preached me that enow.
But O, if thou couldst glide
Into my arms, how I would pour
Around thee sleeping, side, and breast, and brow
Storm-furrowed brow, and breast, and side !
What would I do,
O God! if that were true !
With wreaths of diamond spray
I would bind thee every way
O '. I'd crown thee, and I'd drown thee,
And I'd bathe thee, and I'd swathe thee
With the swirling and the curling,
And the splashing and the flashing
Of my arms;
And I'd float to thee in bubbles,
And I'd woo thee in sweet troubles
Of a gurgling soft and reedy,
Of a rippling foamed and beady,
Till with a refluent sliding,
Till with a hushed subsiding,
I would hold thee in the hollows
Where the storm-trump never follows,
Never pierces with the clang of its alarms.
Be still, my heart, be still !
Dreams are but dreams, they say ;
The ordered world is one both night and day,
And we are but the gear,
Nor have we aught of voice or will,
But, borne on her great zones, we must obey,
Nor move but with the moving sphere.
So, when in meek compliance,
I hear the distant roar
That comes of jubilant waves on ocean's shore,
When on the nether plain
The iron monster snorts defiance,
And boasts himself the slave of fate no more,
Exulting in his fiery pain,
I heed the challenges of change
Not once, nor once would leave
The dale, like that proud stream so proud t'achieve
His course of giddy mirth.
We ask not for such chartered range
We are content with her to joy and grieve
Who is our mother, and did us conceive,
The children of the earth.