To what dark purpose was the Will employed That fashioned, ere the dawn of Time grew dim,
The waste of ocean, from clear rim to rim A crystal chamber, sorrowful and void?
For surely not without design He wrought These vast horizons on whose margins rest The extremes of heaven, nor from east to west
Widened the waters to the bounds of thought.
Half hopeful, half incredulous,
For some gigantic Presence to assume His throne in the large circle of the room.
The dreadful distances are desolate.
In vain! In vain! He is departed hence
Whose breath troubles the waters of the sea: Twilight and night are sworn to secrecy,
The heavens preserve their ancient innocence.
In the enormous throne-room of the sun
No voice is audible. The waves are mute.
Solitude, infinite and absolute,
Bears witness to the unreturning One.
Evening, on the lorn reaches of the sea,
Comes vast and patient; but the night is kind—
Her hand is pity, scarfing up the blind
Sorrows and wastes of the immensity.
The wind is soft among the swaying spars:
Heaven deepens; dusk reveals the glittering height
And cloudless glory of the arch of night,
Bowed down from rim to rim with solemn stars.
When dawn across the broad and billowing plain Casts her pale fire, the monstrous solitude Of huddling waters—the old hope renewed—
Thrills with blind love, and yearns, but all in vain.
Sheer to the east, sheer to the west extend,
Far as the wandering wings of thought may grope,
The eternal vacancies.
No hope, no hope—
Distance, distance forever without end.
Hour by hour, and, day on burning day,
Our vessel plows the soft, reluctant foam;
Hour by hour, and, mile on mile, we roam
The lonely and the everlasting way.
Still fades before us the enormous round—
Blue sea below, blue heaven overhead—
The Void, eternal and untenanted,
A chamber for His splendor, without bound.