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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Charles Kingsley 1819–75

Andromeda and the Sea-Nymphs


AW’D by her own rash words she was still: and her eyes to the seaward

Look’d for an answer of wrath: far off, in the heart of the darkness,

Bright white mists rose slowly; beneath them the wandering ocean

Glimmer’d and glow’d to the deepest abyss; and the knees of the maiden

Trembled and sank in her fear, as afar, like a dawn in the midnight,

Rose from their seaweed chamber the choir of the mystical sea-maids.

Onward toward her they came, and her heart beat loud at their coming,

Watching the bliss of the gods, as waken’d the cliffs with their laughter.

Onward they came in their joy, and before them the roll of the surges

Sank, as the breeze sank dead, into smooth green foam-fleck’d marble,

Aw’d; and the crags of the cliff, and the pines of the mountain were silent.

Onward they came in their joy, and around them the lamps of the sea nymphs,

Myriad fiery globes, swam panting and heaving; and rainbows,

Crimson and azure and emerald, were broken in star-showers, lighting

Far through the wine-dark depths of the crystal, the gardens of Nereus,

Coral and sea-fan and tangle, the blooms and the palms of the ocean.

Onward they came in their joy, more white than the foam which they scatter’d,

Laughing and singing, and tossing and twining, while eager, the Tritons

Blinded with kisses their eyes, unreprov’d, and above them in worship

Hover’d the terns, and the seagulls swept past them on silvery pinions

Echoing softly their laughter; around them the wantoning dolphins

Sigh’d as they plunged, full of love; and the great sea-horses which bore them

Curv’d up their crests in their pride to the delicate arms of the maiden,

Pawing the spray into gems, till the fiery rainfall, unharming,

Sparkled and gleam’d on the limbs of the nymphs, and the coils of the mermen.

Onward they went in their joy, bath’d round with the fiery coolness,

Needing nor sun nor moon, self-lighted, immortal: but others,

Pitiful, floated in silence apart; in their bosoms the sea-boys,

Slain by the wrath of the seas, swept down by the anger of Nereus;

Hapless, whom never again on strand or on quay shall their mothers

Welcome with garlands and vows to the temple, but wearily pining

Gaze over island and bay for the sails of the sunken; they heedless

Sleep in soft bosoms forever, and dream of the surge and the sea-maids.

Onward they pass’d in their joy; on their brows neither sorrow nor anger;

Self-sufficing, as gods, never heeding the woe of the maiden.