Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
 
IV. Sabbath: Worship: Creed
The Seaside Well
Anonymous
 
   “Waters flowed over mine head; then I said, I am cut off.”—LAMENTATIONS iii. 54.

ONE day I wandered where the salt sea-tide
        Backward had drawn its wave,
And found a spring as sweet as e’er hillside
        To wild-flowers gave.
Freshly it sparkled in the sun’s bright look,        5
        And mid its pebbles strayed,
As if it thought to join a happy brook
        In some green glade.
 
But soon the heavy sea’s resistless swell
        Came rolling in once more,        10
Spreading its bitter o’er the clear sweet well
        And pebbled shore.
Like a fair star thick buried in a cloud,
        Or life in the grave’s gloom,
The well, enwrapped in a deep watery shroud,        15
        Sunk to its tomb.
 
As one who by the beach roams far and wide,
        Remnant of wreck to save,
Again I wandered when the salt sea-tide
        Withdrew its wave;        20
And there, unchanged, no taint in all its sweet,
        No anger in its tone,
Still as it thought some happy brook to meet,
        The spring flowed on.
 
While waves of bitterness rolled o’er its head,        25
        Its heart had folded deep
Within itself, and quiet fancies led,
        As in a sleep;
Till, when the ocean loosed his heavy chain,
        And gave it back to day,        30
Calmly it turned to its own life again
        And gentle way.
 
Happy, I thought, that which can draw its life
        Deep from the nether springs,
Safe ’neath the pressure, tranquil mid the strife,        35
        Of surface things.
Safe—for the sources of the nether springs
        Up in the far hills lie;
Calm—for the life its power and freshness brings
        Down from the sky.        40
 
So, should temptations threaten, and should sin
        Roll in its whelming flood,
Make strong the fountain of thy grace within
        My soul, O God!
If bitter scorn, and looks, once kind, grown strange,        45
        With crushing chillness fall,
From secret wells let sweetness rise, nor change
        My heart to gall!
 
When sore thy hand doth press, and waves of thine
        Afflict me like a sea,—        50
Deep calling deep,—infuse from source divine
        Thy peace in me!
And when death’s tide, as with a brimful cup,
        Over my soul doth pour,
Let hope survive,—a well that springeth up        55
        Forevermore!
 
Above my head the waves may come and go,
        Long brood the deluge dire,
But life lies hidden in the depths below
        Till waves retire,—        60
Till death, that reigns with overflowing flood,
        At length withdraw its sway,
And life rise sparkling in the sight of God
        An endless day.
 
 
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