Tabitha Arnesen wrote:
> What a lovely poem! Thanks very much Rick and Will.
> What does the 1st line mean? Any clues?
I'm not sure but I'm going to look at Tennyson's "Maud"
which has a description of a shell.
SEE what a lovely shell,
Small and pure as a pearl, 50
Lying close to my foot,
Frail, but a work divine,
Made so fairily well
With delicate spire and whorl,
How exquisitely minute, 55
A miracle of design!
What is it? a learned man
Could give it a clumsy name.
Let him name it who can,
The beauty would be the same. 60
The tiny cell is forlorn,
Void of the little living will
That made it stir on the shore.
Did he stand at the diamond door
Of his house in a rainbow frill? 65
Did he push, when he was uncurl'd,
A golden foot or a fairy horn
Thro' his dim water-world?
Slight, to be crush'd with a tap
Of my finger-nail on the sand, 70
Small, but a work divine,
Frail, but of force to withstand,
Year upon year, the shock
Of cataract seas that snap
The three-decker's oaken spine 75
Athwart the ledges of rock,
Here on the Breton strand!
Breton, not Briton; here
Like a shipwreck'd man on a coast
Of ancient fable and fear-- 80
Plagued with a flitting to and fro,
A disease, a hard mechanic ghost
That never came from on high
Nor ever arose from below,
But only moves with the moving eye, 85
Flying along the land and the main--
Why should it look like Maud?
Am I to be overawed
By what I cannot but know
Is a juggle born of the brain? 90
Back from the Breton coast,
Sick of a nameless fear,
Back to the dark sea-line
Looking, thinking of all I have lost;
An old song vexes my ear; 95
But that of Lamech is mine.
For years, a measureless ill,
For years, for ever, to part--
But she, she would love me still;
And as long, O God, as she 100
Have a grain of love for me,
So long, no doubt, no doubt,
Shall I nurse in my dark heart,
However weary, a spark of will
Not to be trampled out. 105
Strange, that the mind, when fraught
With a passion so intense
One would think that it well
Might drown all life in the eye,--
That it should, by being so over-wrought, 110
Suddenly strike on a sharper sense
For a shell, or a flower, little things
Which else would have been past by!
And now I remember, I,
When he lay dying there, 115
I noticed one of his many rings
(For he had many, poor worm) and thought
It is his mother's hair.
Who knows if he be dead?
Whether I need have fled? 120
Am I guilty of blood?
However this may be,
Comfort her, comfort her, all things good,
While I am over the sea!
Let me and my passionate love go by, 125
But speak to her all things holy and high,
Whatever happens to me!
Me and my harmful love go by;
But come to her waking, find her asleep,
Powers of the height, Powers of the deep, 130
And comfort her tho' I die.
Song to the Opherian
The golden foot I may not kiss or clutch
Glowed in the shadow of the bed
Perhaps it does not come to very much
This thought this ghost this pendulum in the head
Swinging from life to death
Bleeding between two lives
Waiting that touch.
The wind sprang up and broke the bells,
Is it a dream or something else
When the surface of the blackened river
Is a face that sweats with tears?
I saw across the alien river
The campfire shake the spears.