Gray sky, gray sea, gray mist between;
And near and far the white-caps roll.
They lift and sparkle, flash, careen,
Then vanish, ere they reach a goal.
What are they, think you? Mermaids' breasts
White gleaming through in living snow?
Or mermen's martial, plumy crests
Mingling in combat near below?
Or Father Neptune's curling beard
In hoary ringlets wide outflung?
Or Venus as she first appeared—
A blushing pearl the waves among?
Whate'er ye be, O White-Caps free,
In wild abandonment of play,
We joy to see your foamy glee,
Nor wish your merry sport to stay.
Come nearer! Fling your ocean flowers,
Your crown of starry blossoms nigh.
Enfold our prow in misty bowers,
And whisper, as ye hurry by,
The magic of your scorn for rest,
The secret of your endless quest!