Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
 
Olivia
By Edward Pollock (1823–1858)
 
[Born in Philadelphia, Penn., 1823. Died in San Francisco, Cal., 1858. Poems. 1876.]

WHAT are the long waves singing so mournfully evermore?
What are they singing so mournfully as they weep on the sandy shore?
“Olivia, oh, Olivia!”—what else can it seem to be?
“Olivia, lost Olivia, will never return to thee!”
“Olivia, lost Olivia!”—what else can the sad song be?—        5
“Weep and mourn, she will not return, she cannot return, to thee!”
 
And strange it is when the low winds sigh, and strange when the loud winds blow,
In the rustle of trees, in the roar of the storm, in the sleepiest streamlet’s flow,
Forever, from ocean or river, ariseth the same sad moan,—
“She sleeps; let her sleep; wake her not. It were best she should rest, and alone.”        10
Forever the same sad requiem comes up from the sorrowful sea,
For the lovely, the lost Olivia, who cannot return to me.
 
Alas! I fear ’tis not in the air, or the sea, or the trees,—that strain:
I fear ’tis a wrung heart aching, and the throb of a tortured brain;
And the shivering whisper of startled leaves, and the sob of the waves as they roll,—        15
I fear they are only the echo of the song of a suffering soul,—
Are only the passionless echo of the voice that is ever with me:
“The lovely, the lost Olivia will never return to thee!”
 
I stand in the dim gray morning, where once I stood, to mark,
Gliding away along the bay, like a bird, her white-winged bark;        20
And when through the Golden Gate the sunset radiance rolled,
And the tall masts melted to thinnest threads in the glowing haze of gold,
I said, “To thine arms I give her, O kind and shining sea,
And in one long moon from this June eve you shall let her return to me.”
 
But the wind from the far spice islands came back, and it sang with a sigh,—        25
“The ocean is rich with the treasure it has hidden from you and the sky.” And where, amid rocks and green sea-weed, the storm and the tide were at war,
The nightly-sought waste was still vacant when I looked to the cloud and the star;
And soon the sad wind and dark ocean unceasingly sang unto me,
“The lovely, the lost Olivia will never return to thee!”
 
Dim and still the landscape lies, but shadowless as heaven,        30
For the growing morn and the low-west moon on everything shine even;
The ghosts of the lost have departed, that nothing can ever redeem,
And Nature, in light, sweet slumber, is dreaming her morning dream.
’Tis morn and our Lord has awakened, and the souls of the blessed are free.
Oh, come from the caves of the ocean! Olivia, return unto me!        35
 
What thrills me? What comes near me? Do I stand on the sward alone?
Was that a light wind, or a whisper? a touch, or the pulse of a tone?
Olivia! whose spells from my slumber my broken heart sway and control,
At length bring’st thou death to me, dearest, or rest to my suffering soul?
No sound but the psalm of the ocean: “Bow down to the solemn decree,—        40
The lovely, the lost Olivia will never return to thee!”
 
And still are the long waves singing so mournfully evermore;
Still are they singing so mournfully as they weep on the sandy shore,—
“Olivia, lost Olivia!” so ever ’tis doomed to be,—
“Olivia, lost Olivia will never return to thee!”        45
“Olivia, lost Olivia!”—what else could the sad song be?—
“Weep and mourn, she will not return,—she cannot return to thee!”
 
 
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