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

Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828–82

The Sea-Limits


CONSIDER the sea’s listless chime:

Time’s self it is, made audible,—

The murmur of the earth’s own shell.

Secret continuance sublime

Is the sea’s end: our sight may pass

No furlong further. Since time was,

This sound hath told the lapse of time.

No quiet, which is death’s,—it hath

The mournfulness of ancient life,

Enduring always at dull strife.

As the world’s heart of rest and wrath,

Its painful pulse is in the sands.

Last utterly, the whole sky stands,

Gray and not known, along its path.

Listen alone beside the sea,

Listen alone among the woods;

Those voices of twin solitudes

Shall have one sound alike to thee:

Hark where the murmurs of throng’d men

Surge and sink back and surge again,—

Still the one voice of wave and tree.

Gather a shell from the strown beach

And listen at its lips: they sigh

The same desire and mystery,

The echo of the whole sea’s speech.

And all mankind is thus at heart

Not anything but what thou art:

And Earth, Sea, Man, are all in each.