The Poetry Corner

On The Sea Wall

By Paul Laurence Dunbar

I sit upon the old sea wall, And watch the shimmering sea, Where soft and white the moonbeams fall, Till, in a fantasy, Some pure white maiden's funeral pall The strange light seems to me. The waters break upon the shore And shiver at my feet, While I dream old dreams o'er and o'er, And dim old scenes repeat; Tho' all have dreamed the same before, They still seem new and sweet. The waves still sing the same old song That knew an elder time; The breakers' beat is not more strong, Their music more sublime; And poets thro' the ages long Have set these notes to rhyme. But this shall not deter my lyre, Nor check my simple strain; If I have not the old-time fire, I know the ancient pain: The hurt of unfulfilled desire,-- The ember quenched by rain. I know the softly shining sea That rolls this gentle swell Has snarled and licked its tongues at me And bared its fangs as well; That 'neath its smile so heavenly, There lurks the scowl of hell! But what of that? I strike my string (For songs in youth are sweet); I 'll wait and hear the waters bring Their loud resounding beat; Then, in her own bold numbers sing The Ocean's dear deceit!