The Ocean - Lord Byron


ROLL on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean, roll!

  Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;

  Man marks the earth with ruin; his control

  Stops with the shore; upon the watery plain

  The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain   

  A shadow of man’s ravage, save his own,

  When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,

  He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,

Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.


  His steps are not upon thy paths; thy fields       

  Are not a spoil for him; thou dost arise

  And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields

  For earth’s destruction thou dost all despise,

  Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies,

  And send’st him, shivering in thy playful spray,       

  And howling, to his gods, where haply lies

  His petty hope in some near port or bay,

And dashest him again to earth: there let him lay.


  The armaments which thunderstrike the walls

  Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake,        

  And monarchs tremble in their capitals,

  The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make

  Their clay creator the vain title take

  Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war,—

  These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake,        

  They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar

Alike the Armada’s pride or spoils of Trafalgar.


  Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee:

  Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they?

  Thy waters washed them power while they were free,        

  And many a tyrant since; their shores obey

  The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay

  Has dried up realms to deserts: not so thou,

  Unchangeable save to thy wild waves’ play;

  Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow;        

Such as creation’s dawn beheld, thou rollest now.


  Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty’s form

  Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,

  Calm or convulsed; in breeze or gale or storm,

  Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime        

  Dark-heaving, boundless, endless, and sublime,—

  The image of Eternity, the throne

  Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime

  The monsters of the deep are made; each zone

Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.        


  And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy

  Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be

  Borne, like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy

  I wantoned with thy breakers; they to me

  Were a delight; and if the freshening sea        

  Made them a terror, ’t was a pleasing fear,

  For I was as it were a child of thee,

  And trusted to thy billows far and near,

And laid my hand upon thy mane, as I do here.

The wild is calling

"Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us;

Let us journey to a lonely land I know.

There's a whisper on the night-wind, there's a star agleam to guide us,

And the Wild is calling, calling . . . let us go."


Robert William Service