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On The South Coast
by [?]


Hills and valleys where April rallies his radiant squadron of flowers and birds,
Steep strange beaches and lustrous reaches of fluctuant sea that the land engirds,
Fields and downs that the sunrise crowns with life diviner than lives in words,

Day by day of resurgent May salute the sun with sublime acclaim,
Change and brighten with hours that lighten and darken, girdled with cloud or flame;
Earth’s fair face in alternate grace beams, blooms, and lowers, and is yet the same.

Twice each day the divine sea’s play makes glad with glory that comes and goes
Field and street that her waves keep sweet, when past the bounds of their old repose,
Fast and fierce in renewed reverse, the foam-flecked estuary ebbs
and flows.

Broad and bold through the stays of old staked fast with trunks of the wildwood tree,
Up from shoreward, impelled far forward, by marsh and meadow, by lawn and lea,
Inland still at her own wild will swells, rolls, and revels the surging sea.

Strong as time, and as faith sublime,–clothed round with shadows of hopes and fears,
Nights and morrows, and joys and sorrows, alive with passion of prayers and tears,–
Stands the shrine that has seen decline eight hundred waxing and waning years.

Tower set square to the storms of air and change of season that glooms and glows,
Wall and roof of it tempest-proof, and equal ever to suns and snows,
Bright with riches of radiant niches and pillars smooth as a straight stem grows.

Aisle and nave that the whelming wave of time has whelmed not or touched or neared,
Arch and vault without stain or fault, by hands of craftsmen we know not reared,
Time beheld them, and time was quelled; and change passed by them as one that feared.

Time that flies as a dream, and dies as dreams that die with the sleep they feed,
Here alone in a garb of stone incarnate stands as a god indeed,
Stern and fair, and of strength to bear all burdens mortal to man’s frail seed.

Men and years are as leaves or tears that storm or sorrow is fain to shed:
These go by as the winds that sigh, and none takes note of them quick or dead:
Time, whose breath is their birth and death, folds here his pinions, and bows his head.

Still the sun that beheld begun the work wrought here of unwearied hands
Sees, as then, though the Red King’s men held ruthless rule over lawless lands,
Stand their massive design, impassive, pure and proud as a virgin stands.

Statelier still as the years fulfil their count, subserving her sacred state,
Grows the hoary grey church whose story silence utters and age makes great:
Statelier seems it than shines in dreams the face unveiled of unvanquished fate.

Fate, more high than the star-shown sky, more deep than waters unsounded, shines
Keen and far as the final star on souls that seek not for charms or signs;
Yet more bright is the love-shown light of men’s hands lighted in songs or shrines.

Love and trust that the grave’s deep dust can soil not, neither may fear put out,
Witness yet that their record set stands fast, though years be as hosts in rout,
Spent and slain; but the signs remain that beat back darkness and cast forth doubt.

Men that wrought by the grace of thought and toil things goodlier than praise dare trace,
Fair as all that the world may call most fair, save only the sea’s own face,
Shrines or songs that the world’s change wrongs not, live by grace of their own gift’s grace.

Dead, their names that the night reclaims–alive, their works that the day relumes–
Sink and stand, as in stone and sand engraven: none may behold their tombs:
Nights and days shall record their praise while here this flower of their grafting blooms.