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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Oceanica: Vol. XXXI. 1876–79.

Miscellaneous: Seas of the Tropics

Morning at Sea in the Tropics

By George Gordon McCrae (1833–1927)

NIGHT waned and wasted, and the fading stars

Died out like lamps that long survived a feast,

And the moon, pale with watching, sank to rest

Behind the cloud-piled ramparts of the main.

Young, blooming Morn, crowned with her bridal wreath,

Bent o’er her mirror clear, the faithful sea,

And gazing on her loveliness therein,

Blushed to the brows, till every imaged charm

Flung roses on the bosom of the wave,

Then, glancing heavenward, both, they blushed again,

As sprang the Sun to claim his radiant bride;

And sea and sky seemed but one rose of morn,

Which thenceforth grew in glory, and the world

Shot back her lesser light upon the day,

While night sped on to seek the sombre shades

That sleep in silent caves beyond the sea.

The day grew calmer, hotter, and our barque

Lay like a sleeping swan upon a lake,

And such soft airs as blew from off the land

Brought with them fragrant odors, and we felt

That orange groves lay blooming ’neath the sun

Which blazed so fiercely overhead at sea.

We heard (with Fancy’s ear) a distant bell;

And through the haze that simmered on the main

Pictured a purple shore,—a convent tower

And snowy cots, that from the dark hillside

Peeped forth ’tween plantain-patches at the sky,

Or smiled through groves of cocoas on the sea.

Meanwhile our ship slid on, with breathing sails

Fraught with the melody of murmured song

Such as the zephyr chanted to the morn,

And showers of diamonds flashed before the prow,

While sternwards whirled unstrung pale beads of foam,—

Pearls from the loosened chaplet of the sea.

Mid these the flame-bright Nautilus, that seemed

Itself a floweret cast upon the stream,

Spread out its crimson sail and drifted on.

Beyond arose a cloud (as ’t were) of birds,

That leaped from out the wave to meet the sun,

Flew a short circuit, till their wings grew dry,

And seaward fell in showers of silver rain.

Mid these careered the dolphin-squadrons swift,

With mail of changeful hue, and Iris tints;

And floating slowly on, a sea-flower passed,

A living creature (none the less a flower)

That lives its life in love, and dies for joy,

Unmissed mid myriads in the sapphire sea.