The Winter Shore by Thomas Wade

January, 1830.

A mighty change it is, and ominous
Of mightier, sleeping in Eternity.
The bare cliffs seem half-sinking in the sand,
Heaved high by winter seas; and their white crowns,
Struck by the whirlwinds, shed their hair-like snow
Upon the desolate air. Sullen and black,
Their huge backs rearing far along the waves,
The rocks lie barrenly, which there have lain,
Reveal’d, or hidden, from immemorial time;
And o’er them hangs a sea-weed drapery,
Like some old Triton’s hair, beneath which lurk
Myriads of crowned shell-fish, things whose life,
Like a cell’d hermit’s, seemeth profitless.
Vast slimy masses harden’d into stone
Rise smoothly from the surface of the Deep,
Each with a hundred thousand fairy cells
Perforate, like a honeycomb, and, cup-like,
Fill’d with the sea’s salt crystal—the soft beds
Once of so many pebbles, thence divorced
By the continual waters, as they grew
Slowly to rock. The bleak shore is o’erspread
With sea-weeds green and sere, curl’d and dishevell’d,
As they were mermaids’ tresses, wildly torn
For some sea-sorrow. The small mountain-stream,
Swoln to a river, laves the quivering beach,
And flows in many channels to the sea
Between high shingly banks, that shake for ever.
The solitary sea-bird, like a spirit,
Balanced in air upon his crescent wings,
Hangs floating in the winds, as he were lord
Of the drear vastness round him, and alone
Natured for such dominion. Spring and Summer
And stored Autumn, of their liveries
Here is no vestige; Winter, tempest-robed,
In gloomy grandeur o’er the hills and seas
Reigneth omnipotent.

From: Wade, Thomas, Mundi et Cordis: de rebus, sempiternis et temporalis: carmina. Poems and Sonnets, 1835, John Miller: London, pp. 23-24.

Date: 1830

By: Thomas Wade (1805-1875)


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