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


By James Phinney Baxter (1831–1921)

[Born in Gorham, Me., 1831. Died in Portland, Me., 1921. Idyls of the Year. 1884.]

I STAND at sunset watching

The ebbing of the sea,

Hooded in sorrow, telling

The beads of memory.

White wings in the distance flutter

And disappear from sight;

A wreck’s lank ribs, like spectres,

On the beach stand stark and white.

They move! Nay, ’tis the seaweed

Just stirred by the evening wind,

With which each slimy timber

Is loathsomely entwined.

Ah, where are the shapes of beauty

That once entranced my soul,

That sped with favoring breezes

Toward their promised goal?

I strain my vision seaward—

I see but a misty plain;

And into the heavens above me

I peer, but all in vain.

I stretch my arms in silence—

I clasp but senseless air;

I shout and get no answer,

Though I die in my despair.

I list the soft, sweet rustle

Of their silken sails to hear;

They are somewhere, surely somewhere,

In this universal sphere.

But never a sound comes to me,

But the moan of the sea on the shore;

I have learned its utterance plainly,

“No more—no more—no more.”

Ah, where are the shapes of beauty

Which once entranced my soul,

Which sped with favoring breezes

Toward their promised goal?

Shattered on reefs of coral,—

Ah, treacherous reefs, so fair!—

Scattered on lonely beaches,

And ledges sharp and bare;

Foundered in wastes unsounded,

Burnt on some unknown sea,—

They are gone with all their treasures,

Forever lost to me.