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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

New England: Mattapoisett, Mass.

A Seaside Idyl

By Elizabeth Stoddard (1823–1902)


I WANDERED to the shore, nor knew I then

What my desire,—whether for wild lament,

Or sweet regret, to fill the idle pause

Of twilight, melancholy in my house,

And watch the flowing tide, the passing sails;

Or to implore the air and sea and sky

For that eternal passion in their power

Which souls like mine who ponder on their fate

May feel, and be as they,—gods to themselves.

Thither I went, whatever was my mood.

The sands, the rocks, the beds of sedge, and waves.

Impelled to leave soft foam, compelled away,—

I saw alone. Between the east and west,

Along the beach no creature moved besides.

High on the eastern point a lighthouse shone;

Steered by its lamp a ship stood out to sea,

And vanished from its rays towards the deep,

While in the west, above a wooded isle,

An island-cloud hung in the emerald sky,

Hiding pale Venus in its sombre shade.

I wandered up and down the sands, I loitered

Among the rocks, and trampled through the sedge;

But I grew weary of the stocks and stones.

“I will go hence,” I thought; “the Elements

Have lost their charm; my soul is dead to-night.

O passive, creeping Sea, and stagnant Air,

Farewell! dull sands, and rocks, and sedge, farewell.”