Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Hampton Beach

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

New England: Hampton, N. H.

Hampton Beach

By John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

THE SUNLIGHT glitters keen and bright,

Where, miles away,

Lies stretching to my dazzled sight

A luminous belt, a misty light,

Beyond the dark pine bluffs and wastes of sandy gray.

The tremulous shadow of the Sea!

Against its ground

Of silvery light, rock, hill, and tree,

Still as a picture, clear and free,

With varying outline mark the coast for miles around.

On—on—we tread with loose-flung rein

Our seaward way,

Through dark-green fields and blossoming grain,

Where the wild brier-rose skirts the lane,

And bends above our heads the flowering locust-spray.

Ha! like a kind hand on my brow

Comes this fresh breeze,

Cooling its dull and feverish glow,

While through my being seems to flow

The breath of a new life,—the healing of the seas!

Now rest we, where this grassy mound

His feet hath set

In the great waters, which have bound

His granite ankles greenly round

With long and tangled moss, and weeds with cool spray wet.

Good-by to pain and care! I take

Mine ease to-day:

Here where these sunny waters break,

And ripples this keen breeze, I shake

All burdens from the heart, all weary thoughts away.

I draw a freer breath—I seem

Like all I see—

Waves in the sun—the white-winged gleam

Of sea-birds in the slanting beam—

And far-off sails which flit before the south-wind free.

So when Time’s veil shall fall asunder,

The soul may know

No fearful change, nor sudden wonder,

Nor sink the weight of mystery under,

But with the upward rise, and with the vastness grow.

And all we shrink from now may seem

No new revealing;

Familiar as our childhood’s stream,

Or pleasant memory of a dream,

The loved and cherished Past upon the new life stealing.

Serene and mild the untried light

May have its dawning;

And, as in summer’s northern night

The evening and the dawn unite,

The sunset hues of Time blend with the soul’s new morning.

I sit alone; in foam and spray

Wave after wave

Breaks on the rocks which, stern and gray,

Shoulder the broken tide away,

Or murmurs hoarse and strong through mossy cleft and cave.

What heed I of the dusty land

And noisy town?

I see the mighty deep expand

From its white line of glimmering sand

To where the blue of heaven on bluer waves shuts down!

In listless quietude of mind,

I yield to all

The change of cloud and wave and wind,

And passive on the flood reclined,

I wander with the waves, and with them rise and fall.

But look, thou dreamer!—wave and shore

In shadow lie;

The night-wind warns me back once more

To where, my native hill-tops o’er,

Bends like an arch of fire the glowing sunset sky.

So then, beach, bluff, and wave, farewell!

I bear with me

No token stone nor glittering shell,

But long and oft shall Memory tell

Of this brief thoughtful hour of musing by the Sea.