Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  Sea-Weeds

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 Annie Chambers Ketchum (1824–1904)

[Born in Scott Co., Ky., 1824. Died, 1904. Lotos-Flowers. 1877.]

FRIEND of the thoughtful mind and gentle heart,

Beneath the citron-tree—

Deep calling to my soul’s profounder deep—

I hear the Mexique Sea.

White through the night rides in the spectral surf

Along the spectral sands,

And all the air vibrates, as if from harps

Touched by phantasmal hands.

Bright in the moon the red pomegranate-flowers

Lean to the yucca’s bells,

While with her chrism of dew sad Midnight fills

The milk-white asphodels.

Watching all night—as I have done before—

I count the stars that set,

Each writing on my soul some memory deep

Of pleasure or regret;

Till, wild with heartbreak, toward the east I turn,

Waiting for dawn of day;

And chanting sea, and asphodel, and star,

Are faded, all away.

Only within my trembling, trembling hands—

Brought unto me by thee—

I clasp these beautiful and fragile things,

Bright sea-weeds from the sea.

Fair bloom the flowers beneath these northern skies,

Pure shine the stars by night,

And grandly sing the grand Atlantic waves

In thunder-throated might;

Yet, as the sea-shell in her chambers keeps

The murmur of the sea,

So the deep echoing memories of my home

Will not depart from me.

Prone on the page they lie, these gentle things,

As I have seen them cast

Like a drowned woman’s hair along the sands

When storms were overpast;

Prone, like mine own affections, cast ashore

In battle’s storm and blight.

Would they could die, like sea-weed! Bear with me,

But I must weep to-night.