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A Midsummer Holiday and Other Poems

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THE SEABOARD. The sea is at ebb, and the sound of her utmost word Is soft as the least wave’s lapse in a still small reach. From bay into bay, on quest of a goal deferred, From headland ever to headland and breach to breach Where earth gives ear to the message that all days preach With changes of gladness and sadness that cheer and chide, The lone way lures me along by a chance untried That haply, if hope dissolve not and faith be whole, Not all for nought shall I seek, with a dream for guide. The goal that is not, and ever again the goal. The trackless ways are untravelled of sail or bird; The hoar wave hardly recedes from the soundless beach. The silence of instant noon goes nigh to be heard, The viewless void to be visible: all and each, A closure of calm no clamour of storm can breach Concludes and confines and absorbs them on either side, All forces of light and of life and the live world’s pride. Sands hardly ruffled of ripples that hardly roll Seem ever to show as in reach of a swift brief stride The goal that is not, and ever again the goal. The waves are a joy to the seamew, the meads to the herd, And a joy to the heart is a goal that it may not reach. No sense that for ever the limits of sense engird, No hearing or sight that is vassal to form or speech, Learns ever the secret that shadow and silence teach, Hears ever the notes that or ever they swell subside, Sees ever the light that lights not the loud world’s tide, Clasps ever the cause of the lifelong scheme’s control Wherethrough we pursue, till the waters of life be dried, The goal that is not, and ever again the goal. Friend, what have we sought or seek we, whate’er betide, Though the seaboard shift its mark from afar descried, But aims whence ever anew shall arise the soul? Love, thought, song, life, but show for a glimpse and hide The goal that is not, and ever again the goal. A HAVEN. East and north a waste of waters, south and west Lonelier lands than dreams in sleep would feign to be, When the soul goes forth on travel, and is prest Round and compassed in with clouds that flash and flee Dells without a streamlet, downs without a tree, Cirques of hollow cliff that crumble, give their guest Little hope, till hard at hand he pause, to see Where the small town smiles, a warm still sea-side nest. Many a lone long mile, by many a headland’s crest, Down by many a garden dear to bird and bee, Up by many a sea-down’s bare and breezy breast, Winds the sandy strait of road where flowers run free. Here along the deep steep lanes by field and lea Knights have carolled, pilgrims chanted, on their quest, Haply, ere a roof rose toward the bleak strand’s lee, Where the small town smiles, a warm still sea-side nest. Are the wild lands cursed perchance of time, or blest, Sad with fear or glad with comfort of the sea? Are the ruinous towers of churches fallen on rest Watched of wanderers woful now, glad once as we, When the night has all men’s eyes and hearts in fee, When the soul bows down dethroned and dispossest...?