The Sea-Limits

Consider the sea’s listless chime:
Time’s self it is, made audible, –
The murmur of the earth’s own shell.
Secret continuance sublime
Is the sea’s end: our sight may pass
No furlong further. Since time way,
This sound hath told the lapse of time.

No quiet, which is death’s, – it hath
The mournfulness of ancient life,
Enduring always at dull strife.
As the world’s heart of rest and wrath,
Its painful pulse is in the sands.
Last utterly, the whole sky stands,
Grey and not known, along its path.

Listen alone beside the sea,
Listen along among the woods;
Those voices of twin solitudes
Shall have one voice alike to thee:
Hark where the murmurs of thronged men
Surge and sink back and surge again, –
Still the one voice of wave and tree.

Gather a shell from the strown beath
And listen at its lips: they sighn
The same desire and mystery,
The echo of the whole sea’s speech
And all mankind is thus at heart
Not anything but what thou art:
And Earth, Sea, Man, are all in each.

– Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)