What the Sea Said to Me

by Frances Fuller Victor

One evening as I sat beside the sea,

A little rippling wave stole up to me,

And whispered softly, yet impressively,

The word Eternity:

I smiled, that anything so small should utter,

A word the ocean in its wrath might mutter;

And with a mirthful fancy, vainly strove,

To suit its cadence to some word of love—

But all the little wave would say to me,

Was, over and again, Eternity!

After a time, the winds, from their dark caves,

Arose, and wrestled with the swelling waves,

Shrieking as doth a madman when he raves;

Yet still Eternity

Was spoken audibly unto my hearing;

While foaming billows, their huge crests up-rearing,

Rushed with a furious force upon the shore,

That only answered with a sullen roar;

As if it hoarsely echoed what the sea

Said with such emphasis—Eternity!

And by and by, the sky grew dun and dim;

Soon all was darkness, save the foam's white gleam;

And all was silence save the sea's deep hymn—

That hymn Eternity:

While some dread presence, all the darkness filling,

Crept round my heart, its healthy pulses chilling;

Making the night, so awful unto me,

More fearful with that word Eternity.

So that my spirit, trembling and afraid,

Bowed down itself before its God, and prayed

For His strong arm of terror to be stayed;

And sighed Eternity

From its white lips, as the dark sea, subsiding,

Sank into broken murmurs; and the gliding

Of the soothed waters seemed once more to me

The whisper I first heard, Eternity.

But now I mocked not what the ripple said:

I only reverently bent my head,

While the pure stars, unveiled, their lustre shed

Upon the peaceful sea—

And the mild moon, with a majestic motion,

Uprose, and shed upon the murmuring ocean,

Her calm and radiant glory, as if she

Knew it the symbol of Eternity.