Sublime and wonderful art thou, O deep,
Illustrious ocean, vast unmeasured waste!
Lost in thy contemplation, I do seem
Even as a grain of sand upon thy beach,
That shouldst thou reach thy giant arms to grasp
Would melt away in thy dissolving foam,
Nor yet be missed among the myriads left;
Yet in thy calms and tempests, I can read
The moods and passions of the human soul;
Nor are they changing winds and tides more real
That those that sweep and sway the depths of thought.
Calm is thy breast today, thou fitful main,
And yet perchance before the eastern star
Sheds o’er thy surface her supernal beams,
High on yon crags thy maddened spray shall dash
And the wild roar of elemental war
Shall cause the dwellers on thy cliffs to quake
And the brave mariner to grow sick at heart.
Why is this murmuring, this wild unrest?
This never-ending conflict with thyself,
As if thou wouldst burst through thy massive gates
And fling thy treasures through celestial space,
Strew the pale Occident with coral sprays
And the blue zenith with ten-thousand gems;
Or scatter pearls throughout the Orient flames;
Or yet go seething through yon crested heights
And with a voice like Gabriel’s trumpet, tell
The pent-up secrets of thy hidden depths
Unto the flaming beacon of the day?
‘Tis vain- with all thy vast gigantic power,
Thou canst but cast a few frail treasures forth,
Perchance a seaweed spray or tinted shell,
Dripping and glistening from thy briny surf,
Cast out upon the sands, that wheresoe’er
Fate or caprice may bear its fragile form,
A whispered song from its pink lips is heard
That seems to speak of caverns deep and lone
Sunk in thy heaving bosom, restless sea,
That eye hath never seen, nor yet a ray
From the bright flickering lamps of Heaven has pierced.
Thus do the surges of the spirit rise
And dash against their narrow prison walls,
Clap their rapt wings and long for liberty;
Or in a vague unrest beat to and fro,
Forever striving to yield up the things
That pent in their own beings will not rest
Ah! like the sea, they only render up
Perchance a thought from out their hidden caves,
That, like the sea-shell, murmurs of the depths
That slept before undreamed of far below;
Within the human soul lie depths as deep
As ever slept within the ocean’s breast,
And heights that rise beyond the breaker’s crest
In the vain wish to pass their narrow bound.
Lo, o’er the depths of ocean and of soul
Breathes forth a voice that calms their wild unrest:
‘Peace, be thou still,’ ‘to me thou shalt yield up,
The garnered fullness of thy hidden things;
To me the deep shall pour her treasures out;
To me the ocean shall her secrets tell;
At my command the sea shall burst her gates
And the chained treasures of the depths come forth;’
So shall the soul break forth at last in song;
So shall her pent-up longings be unloosed
To sweep adown the aisles of endless time;
So shall the depths therein in endless praise
Pour out their garnered fullness unto God.
By Martha Lavinia (1865-1900)
This wonderful poet passed away at the young age of 35. She knew she wouldn’t live for long but she wanted to do some good in this world and so she did through her writings.