JUST a shell, to which the seaweed glittering yet with greenness clings,|
Like the song that once I loved so, softly of the old time sings—
Softly of the old time speaketh—bringing ever back to me
Sights of far-off lordly forelands—glimpses of the sounding sea!
Now the cliffs are all before me—now, indeed, do I behold
Shining growths on wild wet hillheads, quiet pools of green and gold.
And, across the gleaming beaches, lo! the mighty flow and fall
Of the great ingathering waters thundering under Wamberal!
Back there are the pondering mountains; there the dim, dumb ranges loom—
Ghostly shapes in dead grey vapour—half-seen peaks august with gloom.
There the voice of troubled torrents, hidden in unfathomed deeps,
Known to moss and faint green sunlight, wanders down the oozy steeps.
There the lake of many runnels nestles in a windless wild
Far amongst thick-folded forests, like a radiant human child.
And beyond surf-smitten uplands—high above the highest spur—
Lo! the clouds like tents of tempest on the crags of Kincumber!
Wamberal, the home of echoes! Hard against a streaming strand,
Sits the hill of blind black caverns, at the limits of the land.
Here the haughty water marches—here the flights of straitened sea
Make a noise like that of trumpets, breaking wide across the lea!
But behold, in yonder crescent that a ring of island locks
Are the gold and emerald cisterns shining moonlike in the rocks!
Clear, bright cisterns, zoned by mosses, where the faint wet blossoms dwell
With the leaf of many colours—down beside the starry shell.
Friend of mine beyond the mountains, here and here the perished days
Come like sad reproachful phantoms, in the deep grey evening haze—
Come like ghosts, and sit beside me when the noise of day is still,
And the rain is on the window, and the wind is on the hill.
Then they linger, but they speak not, while my memory roams and roams
Over scenes by death made sacred—other lands and other homes!
Places sanctified by sorrow—sweetened by the face of yore—
Face that you and I may look on (friend and brother) nevermore!
Seasons come with tender solace—time lacks neither light nor rest;
But the old thoughts were such dear ones, and the old days seem the best.
And to those who’ve loved and suffered, every pulse of wind or rain—
Every song with sadness in it, brings the peopled Past again.
Therefore, just this shell yet dripping, with this weed of green and grey,
Sets me thinking—sets me dreaming of the places far away;
Dreaming of the golden rockpools—of the foreland and the fall;
And the home behind the mountains looming over Wamberal.