Cast on the water by a careless hand,
Day after day the winds persuaded me:
Onward I drifted till a coral tree
Stayed me among its branches, where the sand
Gathered about me, and I slowly grew,
Fed by the constant sun and the inconstant dew.
The sea-birds build their nests against my root,
And eye my slender body's horny case.
Widowed within this solitary place
Into the thankless sea I cast my fruit;
Joyless I thrive, for no man may partake
Of all the store I bear and harvest for his sake.
No more I heed the kisses of the morn;
The harsh winds rob me of the life they gave;
I watch my tattered shadow in the wave,
And hourly droop and nod my crest forlorn,
While all my fibres stiffen and grow numb
Beck'ning the tardy ships, the ships that never come!
IN THE CRADLE OF THE DEEP.
Forty days in the great desert of the sea,--forty nights camped under
cloud-canopies, with the salt dust of the waves drifting over us.
Sometimes a Bedouin sail flashed for an hour upon the distant horizon,
and then faded, and we were alone again; sometimes the west, at sunset,
looked like a city with towers, and we bore down upon its glorified
walls, seeking a haven; but a cold gray morning dispelled the illusion,
and our hearts sank back into the illimitable sea, breathing a long
prayer for deliverance.