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

Various Islands: Coral Reefs and Islands

The Coral Grove

By James Gates Percival (1795–1856)

DEEP in the wave is a coral grove,

Where the purple mullet and gold-fish rove;

Where the sea-flower spreads its leaves of blue

That never are wet with falling dew,

But in bright and changeful beauty shine

Far down in the green and glassy brine.

The floor is of sand, like the mountain drift,

And the pearl-shells spangle the flinty snow;

From coral rocks the sea-plants lift

Their boughs, where the tides and billows flow;

The water is calm and still below,

For the winds and waves are absent there,

And the sands are bright as the stars that glow

In the motionless fields of upper air.

There, with its waving blade of green,

The sea-flag streams through the silent water,

And the crimson leaf of the dulse is seen

To blush, like a banner bathed in slaughter.

There, with a light and easy motion,

The fan-coral sweeps through the clear, deep sea;

And the yellow and scarlet tufts of ocean

Are bending like corn on the upland lea.

And life, in rare and beautiful forms,

Is sporting amid those bowers of stone,

And is safe, when the wrathful spirit of storms

Has made the top of the wave his own.

And when the ship from his fury flies,

Where the myriad voices of ocean roar,

When the wind-god frowns in the murky skies,

And demons are waiting the wreck on shore,

Then, far below, in the peaceful sea,

The purple mullet and gold-fish rove

Where the waters murmur tranquilly,

Through the bending twigs of the coral grove.