The Two Beaches – Manly by Elizabeth Matilda Manning

Ocean.

Thundering rolls the storming ocean, foaming on the golden sand,
Rising high in purple anger, frowning on the silent land;
Ridge on ridge of heaving billows, buoy’d upon a giant breast
Palpitating with a passion of eternal fierce unrest.
Manlike in its daring fervour, grand in savageness of force,
That must break or self be broken by whate’er shall mar its course:
Now its utmost force it gathers, deep a mighty sob resounds,
In one surging arc of waters, res’lute to o’erburst its bounds.
Vain! The war-plumed heads must lower, Nature’s law shall be obey’d:
“Thus far, never farther!” conquers; prone the haughty waves are laid,
Humbled, frothing with the struggle, sweeping in, then backward drawn,
Leaving but the tiny furrow that their utmost throes have worn.

See, the western sun is sinking, grim the stolid headlands gloom,
Rising dark above the spray-smoke and the loud attacking boom
Of the cannonade of waters, lit with fire of sunset gold,
While the glory-mists of evening bays and hillsides sweet enfold.
Glare the rocks their salt-tear’d parting, earth in quiet slumber rests,
Yet th’ impatient waves are fretting, still they lift their wrathful crests,
Moving black with ghostly aureoles, like a mighty spirit doom’d
Ne’er to cease its warring struggle while the endless ages loom’d,
So it lasheth; seething, panting, with one deep despairing roar,
Image of the world’s unquiet, knowing peace for nevermore.

Harbour.

Calmly, gently, rock the waters, smiling in a maze of blue,
Womanlike, in love reflecting every changing light and hue;
Sometimes creeping into shadow, near a strong protective head,
Then in glistening joy of ripples into wooing sunshine led.
Or like a child at sport with lions, casting silvery shower of spray,
On hard-featured rocks that, moveless, stem resist their graceful play.

Pass the wavelets careless sweetly o’er the lake’s still-breathing breast,
Troubled whiles at Ocean’s portals by the billow’s threatening crest,
Then once more their smile regaining, dancing on with gladsome speech,
Till they lay their emerald crescents fondly on the haven’d beach.
Storming not, nor scarcely whispering, but with kiss and lapping feet,
Rise the waters to their tide-height, with unnoted swiftness meet,
Rarely leaving mark or token where the crystal steps have been,
Yet fulfilling all their portion with a noiseless strength unseen;
Ebbing, flowing, as the Ocean in its due appointed hour,
But like force of love contrasted with the rage of restless power.

Sunlight’s tints have paled to neutral, toned to hues of soothing grey,
And in hallow’d trance of stillness Nature ends her chequer’d day;
Black th’ embracing lands are profiled clear against the evening sky,
Throwing up by darksome setting lucent deeps which quivering lie
Like a liquid sea of opal, hoarding every dying beam,
And with answering light reflecting early stars that faintly gleam,
Till the goodnight darkness falleth, and with breath of rippling sound,
Dreaming wavelets, slumb’rous murmuring, ‘neath the spell of sleep are bound.

From: “Australie”, The Balance of Pain and Other Poems, 2000, University of Sydney Library: Sydney, pp. 87-88.
(https://adc.library.usyd.edu.au/data-2/v00040.pdf)

Date: 1877

By: Elizabeth Matilda Manning (1845-1890)

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