The Coral Grove by James Gates Percival

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 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.

From: Percival, James G, Poems, 1823, Charles Wiley: New York, pp. 318-319.

Date: 1823

By: James Gates Percival (1795-1856)

2 Comments to “The Coral Grove by James Gates Percival”

  1. Pretty poem, and I’d never heard of James Gates Percival. It reminds me somewhat of one of Goethe’s most famous verses

    Knowest thou the land where the lemon trees bloom,
    In dark shadow the gold oranges glow,
    A gentle wind from blue heaven blows,
    The myrtle still and high the laurels stand?
    Knowest thou it well?
    There! There
    Would I with thee, oh my beloved go.

    This is the first stanza of a longer poem know as “Kennst du das Land”.

    • Thank you for the comment. I hadn’t heard of James Gate Percival either until I stumbled over him while reading something about Ralph Waldo Emerson. I haven’t read much Goethe but that stanza makes me want to investigate him now.

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