Verse > Anthologies > George Willis Cooke, ed. > The Poets of Transcendentalism: An Anthology
George Willis Cooke, comp.  The Poets of Transcendentalism: An Anthology.  1903.
The Ocean
By Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813–1892)
            “In a season of calm weather
Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
That brought us hither,
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.”

TELL me, brother, what are we?
Spirits bathing in the sea
      Of Deity!
Half afloat, and half on land,
Wishing much to leave the strand,        5
Standing, gazing with devotion,
Yet afraid to trust the ocean,—
      Such are we.
Wanting love and holiness,
To enjoy the wave’s caress;        10
Wanting faith and heavenly hope,
Buoyantly to bear us up;
Yet impatient in our dwelling,
When we hear the ocean swelling,
And in every wave that rolls        15
We behold the happy souls
Peacefully, triumphantly
Swimming on the smiling sea,
Then we linger round the shore,
Lovers of the earth no more.        20
Once,—’t was in our infancy,—
We were drifted by this sea
To the coast of human birth,
To this body and this earth;
Gentle were the hands that bore        25
Our young spirits to the shore;
Gentle lips that bade us look
Outward from our cradle-nook
To the spirit-bearing ocean
With such wonder and devotion,        30
As, each stilly Sabbath day
We were led a little way,
Where we saw the waters swell
Far away from inland dell,
And received with grave delight        35
Symbols of the Infinite:—
Then our home was near the sea;
“Heaven was round our infancy;”—
Night and day we heard the waves
Murmuring by us to their caves;—        40
Floated in unconscious life
With no later doubts at strife,
Trustful of th’ Upholding Power,
Who sustained us hour by hour.
Now we ’ve wandered from the shore,        45
Dwellers by the sea no more;
Yet at times there comes a tone
Telling of the visions flown,
Soundings from the distant sea
Where we left our purity:        50
Distant glimpses of the surge
Lure us down to ocean’s verge;
There we stand with vague distress
Yearning for the measureless,
By half-wakened instincts driven,        55
Half loving earth, half loving heaven,
Fearing to put off and swim,
Yet impelled to turn to Him,
In whose life we live and move,
And whose very name is Love.        60
Grant me courage, Holy One,
To become indeed thy son,
And in thee, thou Parent-Sea,
Live and love eternally.

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