|Glooms of the
live-oaks, beautiful-braided and woven
With intricate shades of the vines that myriad-cloven
Clamber the forks of the multiform boughs,--
Virginal shy lights,
Wrought of the leaves to allure to the whisper of vows,
When lovers pace timidly down through the green
Of the dim sweet woods, of the dear dark woods,
Of the heavenly woods and glades,
That run to the radiant marginal sand-beach within
The wide sea-marshes of Glynn;--
Beautiful glooms, soft dusks in the noon-day fire,--
Wildwood privacies, closets of lone desire,
Chamber from chamber parted with wavering arras of
Cells for the passionate pleasure of prayer to the soul
Pure with a sense of the passing of saints through the
Cool for the dutiful weighing of ill with good;--
O braided dusks of the oak and woven shades of the vine,
While the riotous noon-day sun of the June-day long did
Ye held me fast in your heart and I held you fast in
But now when
the noon is no more, and riot is rest,
And the sun is a-wait at the ponderous gate of the West,
And the slant yellow beam down the wood-aisle doth seem
Like a lane into heaven that leads from a dream,--
Ay, now, when my soul all day hath drunken the soul of
And my heart is at ease from men, and the wearisome sound
of the stroke
Of the scythe of time and the trowel of trade is low,
And belief overmasters doubt, and I know that I know,
And my spirit is grown to a lordly great compass within,
That the length and the breadth and the sweep of the
marshes of Glynn
Will work me no fear like the fear they have wrought me
When length was fatigue, and when breadth was but
And when terror and shrinking and dreary unnamable pain
Drew over me out of the merciless miles of the plain,--
Oh, now, unafraid, I am fain to face
The vast sweet visage of space.
To the edge of the wood I am drawn, I am drawn,
Where the gray beach glimmering runs, as a belt of the
For a mete and a mark
To the forest-dark:--
Affable live-oak, leaning low,--
Thus--with your favor--soft, with a reverent hand,
(Not lightly touching your person, Lord of the land!)
Bending your beauty aside, with a step I stand
On the firm-packed sand,
By a world of marsh that borders a world of sea.
and sinuous northward the shimmering band
Of the sand-beach fastens the fringe of the marsh to the
folds of the land.
Inward and outward to northward and southward the
beachlines linger and curl
As a silver-wrought garment that clings to and follows
the firm sweet limbs of a girl.
Vanishing, swerving, evermore curving again into sight,
Softly the sand-beach wavers away to a dim gray looping
And what if behind me to westward the wall of the woods
The world lies east: how ample, the marsh and the sea and
A league and a league of marsh-grass, waist-high, broad
in the blade,
Green, and all of a height, and unflecked with a light or
Stretch leisurely off, in a pleasant plain,
To the terminal blue of the main.
Oh, what is abroad in the marsh and the terminal sea?
Somehow my soul seems suddenly free.
From the weighing of fate and the sad discussion of sin,
By the length and the breadth and the sweep of the
marshes of Glynn.
Ye marshes, how candid and simple and nothing-withholding
Ye publish yourselves to the sky and offer yourselves to
that suffer the sea and the rains and the sun,
Ye spread and span like the catholic man who hath
God out of knowledge and good out of infinite pain
And sight out of blindness and purity out of a stain.
As the marsh-hen secretly builds on the watery sod,
Behold I will build me a nest on the greatness of God:
I will fly in the greatness of God as the marsh-hen flies
In the freedom that fills all the space 'twixt the marsh
and the skies:
By so many roots as the marsh-grass sends in the sod
I will heartily lay me a-hold on the greatness of God:
Oh, like to the greatness of God is the greatness within
The range of the marshes, the liberal marshes of Glynn.
And the sea lends large, as the marsh: lo, out of his
plenty the sea
Pours fast: full soon the time of the flood-tide must be:
Look how the grace of the sea doth go
About and about through the intricate channels that flow
Here and there,
Till his waters have flooded the uttermost creeks and the
And the marsh is meshed with a million veins,
That like as with rosy and silvery essences flow
In the rose-and-silver evening glow.
Farewell, my lord
The creeks overflow: a thousand rivulets run
'Twixt the roots of the sod; the blades of the
Passeth a hurrying sound of wings that westward whirr;
Passeth, and all is
still; and the currents cease to run;
And the sea and the marsh are one.
How still the plains of the waters be!
The tide is in his ecstasy.
The tide is at his highest height:
And it is night.
And now from the Vast of the Lord will the waters of
Roll in on the souls of men,
But who will reveal to our waking ken
The forms that swim and the shapes that creep
Under the waters of
And I would I could know what swimmeth below when the
tide comes in
On the length and the breadth of the marvellous marshes