Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1861–1889
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889
 
With a Nantucket Shell
By Charles Henry Webb (1834–1905)
 
[From Vagrom Verse. 1889.]

I SEND thee 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 sank on 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 ship 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 sailors’ 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 on 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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