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

Eugene Lee-Hamilton b. 1845

Sea-Shell Murmurs

THE HOLLOW sea-shell, which for years hath stood

On dusty shelves, when held against the ear

Proclaims its stormy parents; and we hear

The faint far murmur of the breaking flood.

We hear the sea. The sea? It is the blood

In our own veins, impetuous and near,

And pulses keeping pace with hope and fear

And with our feeling’s every shifting mood.

Lo, in my heart I hear, as in a shell,

The murmur of a world beyond the grave,

Distinct, distinct, though faint and far it be.

Thou fool; this echo is a cheat as well,—

The hum of earthly instincts; and we crave

A world unreal as the shell-heard sea.