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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Mussel Shell

By Celia Laighton Thaxter (1835–1894)

WHY art thou colored like the evening sky

Sorrowing for sunset? Lovely dost thou lie,

Bared by the washing of the eager brine,

At the snow’s motionless and wind-carved line.

Cold stretch the snows, cold throng the waves, the wind

Stings sharp,—an icy fire, a touch unkind,—

And sighs as if with passion of regret,

The while I mark thy tints of violet.

O beauty strange! O shape of perfect grace,

Whereon the lovely waves of color trace

The history of the years that passed thee by,

And touched thee with the pathos of the sky!

The sea shall crush thee; yea, the ponderous wave

Up the loose beach shall grind, and scoop thy grave,

Thou thought of God! What more than thou and I?

Both transient as the sad wind’s passing sigh.