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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.


Lines Written at Sorrento

By Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813–1892)

THE WILD waves madly dash and roar,

In thunder-throbs, upon the beach;

Their broad white hands upon the shore

They struggle evermore to reach.

Up through the cavernous rocks amain,

With short, hoarse growl, they plunge and leap,

Like an armed host, again and again,

Battering some castellated steep.

Great pulses of the ocean heart,

Beating from out immensity,

What mystic news would ye impart

From the great spirit of the sea?

Ever, in still increasing force,

Earnest as cries of love or hate,

Your large and eloquent discourse

Is mighty as the march of fate.

I sit alone on the glowing sand,

Filled with the music of your speech,

And only half may understand

The wondrous lore that ye would teach.

The sea-weed and the shells are wise,

And versed in your broad Sanscrit tongue;

The rocks need not our ears and eyes

To comprehend the under-song.

The ocean and the shore are one;

The rocks and trees that hang above,

The birds and insects in the sun

Are linked in one strong tie of love.

Would that I might with freedom be

A seer into your hidden truth,

Joining your firm fraternity,

To drink with you perpetual youth!