Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  At Point Lobos

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

Western States: Point Lobos, Cal.

At Point Lobos

By Charles Warren Stoddard (1843–1909)

CLEAR noon without obscurity,

No flake of cloud ’twixt heaven and me;

No mist athwart the Golden Gate:

The hearty sun doth wilfully

His profuse beams precipitate.

I cling to humpèd rocks that kneel

On unswept sands, where breakers reel

In splendid curves, and pile their foam

In spongy hills, that slow congeal,

And dulse and drift-wood find a home.

We clasp the silver crescent set

Within the hazy parapet

That belts the horizon: in glee

I count the fitful puffs that fret

The eternal levels of the sea.

I watch the waves that seem to breathe

And pant unceasingly beneath

Their silken coverings, that cringe,

As flecked with swirls of froth, they seethe,

And whip, and flutter to a fringe.

Brown pipers run upon the sand

Like shadows; far out from the land

Gray gulls slide up against the blue;

One shining spar is sudden manned

By squadrons of their wrecking crew.

My city is beyond the hill;

I cannot hear its voices shrill:

I little heed its gains and greeds:

Here is my song, where waters spill

Their liquid strophes in the reeds.

And to this music I forswear

Whatever soils the world with care:

I see the listless waters toss,—

I track the swift lark through the air,—

I lie with sunlight on the moss.

White caravans of cloud go by

Across the desert of bright sky,

And burly winds are following

The trailing pilgrims, as they fly

Over the grassy hills of spring.

What Mecca are they hastening to?

What princess journeying to woo

In the rich Orient? I am thrilled

With spice and odor they imbue,—

I feed upon their manna spilled!

I strip my breast with eager mind,

To tarry and invite the wind

To my embrace: by curious spell

It quickens me with praises kind,—

’T is Ariel that blows his shell!

Invisible, and soft as dews

Descending, he his love renews,

Delighting daisy colonies

That gloss them with the lustrous ooze

Of meadows steeped in ecstasies.

Until the homely, sunburnt Heads,

The tumbling hills, in browns and reds,

And gray sand-hillocks, everywhere

Are buried in the mist that sheds

Its subtle snow upon the air.

And Prospero, aroused from sleep,

Recalls his spirits from the deep,—

They cross the wave with stealthy tread,

Their shadows down upon me sweep,—

And day is past, and joy is fled.

I hear the dismal bells that shout

Their warning to the ships without:

The dripping sails are reefed and furled,

The pilots sound and grope about,—

The Gate is barred against the world!