Verse > Anthologies > Louis Untermeyer, ed. > Modern British Poetry
Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern British Poetry.  1920.
James Stephens. 1882–
123. The Shell
AND then I pressed the shell 
Close to my ear 
And listened well, 
And straightway like a bell 
Came low and clear         5
The slow, sad murmur of the distant seas, 
Whipped by an icy breeze 
Upon a shore 
Wind-swept and desolate. 
It was a sunless strand that never bore  10
The footprint of a man, 
Nor felt the weight 
Since time began 
Of any human quality or stir 
Save what the dreary winds and waves incur.  15
And in the hush of waters was the sound 
Of pebbles rolling round, 
For ever rolling with a hollow sound. 
And bubbling sea-weeds as the waters go 
Swish to and fro  20
Their long, cold tentacles of slimy grey. 
There was no day, 
Nor ever came a night 
Setting the stars alight 
To wonder at the moon:  25
Was twilight only and the frightened croon, 
Smitten to whimpers, of the dreary wind 
And waves that journeyed blind— 
And then I loosed my ear ... O, it was sweet 
To hear a cart go jolting down the street.  30

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