A. Lindsay Gordon, “The Swimmer”
With short, sharp violent lights made vivid
To southward as far as the sight can roam,
Only the swirl of the surges livid,
The seas that climb and the surfs that comb.
Only the crag and the cliff to nor’ward,
And the rocks receding, and reefs flung forward,
Waifs wrecked seaward and wasted shoreward,
On shallows sheeted with flaming foam.
A grim, grey coast and a seaboard ghastly,
And shores trod seldom by feet of men –
Where the batter’d hull and the broken mast lie,
They have lain embedded these long years ten.
Love! when we wandered here together,
Hand in hand through the sparkling weather,
From the heights and hollows of fern and heather,
God surely loved us a little then.
The skies were fairer and shores were firmer –
The blue sea over the bright sand roll’d;
Babble and prattle, and ripple and murmur,
Sheen of silver and glamour of gold.
So, girt with tempest and wing’d with thunder
And clad with lightning and shod with sleet,
And strong winds treading the swift waves under
The flying rollers with frothy feet.
One gleam like a bloodshot sword-blade swims on
The sky line, staining the green gulf crimson,
A death-stroke fiercely dealt by a dim sun
That strikes through his stormy winding sheet.
O brave white horses! you gather and gallop,
The storm sprite loosens the gusty reins;
Now the stoutest ship were the frailest shallop
In your hollow backs, on your high-arched manes.
I would ride as never a man has ridden
In your sleep, swirling surges hidden;
To gulfs foreshadow’d through strifes forbidden
Where no light wearies and no love wanes.