Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. V. Nature
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume V. Nature.  1904.
VII. The Sea
With a Nantucket Shell
Charles Henry Webb (1834–1905)
I SEND a shell from the ocean beach;
But listen thou well, for my shell hath speech.
          Hold to thine ear,
          And plain thou ’lt hear
          Tales of ships        5
          That were lost in the rips,
          Or that sunk on the shoals
          Where the bell-buoy tolls,
And ever and ever its iron tongue rolls
In a ceaseless lament for the poor lost souls.        10
          And a song of the sea
          Has my shell for thee:
          The melody in it
          Was hummed at Wauwinet,
          And caught at Coatue        15
          By the gull that flew
Outside to the ships with its perishing crew.
          But the white wings wave
          Where none may save,
And there’s never a stone to mark a grave.        20
          See, its sad heart bleeds
          For the sailor’s needs;
          But it bleeds again
          For more mortal pain,
          More sorrow and woe,        25
          Than is theirs who go
With shuddering eyes and whitening lips
Down in the sea in their shattered ships.
          Thou fearest the sea?
          And a tyrant is he,—        30
A tyrant as cruel as tyrant may be;
          But though winds fierce blow,
          And the rocks lie low,
          And the coast be lee,
          This I say to thee:        35
Of Christian souls more have been wrecked on shore
          Than ever were lost at sea!

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