Long-lined, the foaming chargers of the sea
Press onward in the sun, a glittering host,
Tossing their plumes and breathing angrily.
Long-lined, a seething ocean at their backs,
They dash against the rocks. The flying spray
Is like the smoke of battle, and the spume
Is like the froth of men and beasts at bay,
Driven to desperate daring. On and on
The long attack is urged, and endlessly.
Forever and forever, 'neath the moon
That coldly views the onset; through the day
As wheels the steady sun; in winter's blast
And summer's brilliant burning,—still the clash
Of angry waves upon the stolid rock,
And still they fall defeated back again,
And still the silent granite fronts the sea.
Thus youth confronts the universe, his head
Hold haughtily against the surge of fate,
Ever defiant of the elements,
Of time, or man, or death, or God Himself;
Thus youth, in fancied power, in the pride
Of ignorant inertness.
The waves that know no victory, but still
Acknowiedge no defeat. Unceasingly
They ply their warfare, happy if a grain,
A single grain of all the granite mass
Is theirs for plunder at the weary end
Of twelve months' battering; for so at last,
Indubitably so, the rock is theirs,
Its haughty head at level with the tide,
Its massive battlements a drift of sand.
And this I learn, now that my youth is gone.
Ah, this I learn, and how beneath the yoke.
God's waves are over me, and all my pride
Is scattered grain by grain along the beach,
Or swallowed in the caverns of the sea.
But be it so; yes, beaten like the sand;
Yes, spread abroad for all the winds to toss
And the wide ocean to make sport withal,
So be it; I am victor even yet.
For where the rock was black, the sand is white;
And where the rock was sullen, how the sun
Sparkles upon the facets of the sand!
And where the rock was lonely, children now
Play merrily upon the sand's delights;
And where the rock was shaken with shock
Of constant battle, in the blessed peace
Of all the bending heavens now the sand
Lies glad and humble. It is better so;
For youth is strong, but age is stronger still,
Strong with the power of the sea itself,
Pliant beneath the guiding hand of God.