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APOSTROPHE TO THE OCEAN

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On a lone winter evening, when the frost

Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills The Cricket's song, in warmth increasing ever, And seems to one, in drowsiness half lost,

The Grasshopper's among some grassy hills.

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GEORGE GORDON NOEL, LORD BYRON

ENGLAND, 1788–1824

Apostrophe to the Ocean

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Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean - roll!

Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain; Man marks the earth with ruin - his control

Stops with the shore; - upon the watery plain

The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,

When, for a moment, like a drop of rain, He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan, Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown. The armaments which thunderstrike the walls

Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake, And monarchs tremble in their capitals;

The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make

Their clay creator the vain title take Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war;

These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake,

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They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar
Alike the Armada's pride, or spoils of Trafalgar.

Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee

Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, - what are they? 5 Thy waters wasted them while they were free

And many a tyrant since; their shores obey

The stranger, slave or savage; their decay Has dried up realms to deserts : - not so thou;

Unchangeable, save to they wild waves play 10 Time writes no wrinkles on thine azure brow:

Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.

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Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form

Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,
Calm or convulsed - in breeze or gale or storm

Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime

Dark heaving; boundless, endless, and sublime The image of Eternity — the throne

Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime The monsters of the deep are made; each zone Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless,

alone.

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And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy

Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
Borne, like thy bubbles, onward; from a boy

I wantoned with thy breakers — they to me
Were a delight; and if the freshening sea

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Made them a terror, 'twas a pleasing fear;

For I was, as it were, a child of thee,
And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy mane - as I do here.

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

ENGLAND, 1792–1822

Spring

5

And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

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The snowdrop, and then the violet,
Arose from the ground with warm rain wet;
And their breath was mixed with fresh odor, sent
From the tuft, like the voice and the instrument.

Then the pied windflowers and the tulip tall,
And narcissi, fairest among them all,
Who gaze on their eyes in the stream's recess,
Till they die of their own dear loveliness;

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And the hyacinth purple and white and blue,
Which flung from its bells a sweet peal anew
Of music so delicate, soft and intense,
It was felt like an odor within the sense;

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And the rose like a nymph to the bath addressed,
Which unveiled the depth of her glowing breast,
Till, fold after fold, to the fainting air
The soul of her beauty and love lay bare.

- From " THE SENSITIVE PLANT."

To a Skylark

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Hail to thee, blithe spirit !

Bird thou never wert,
That from heaven, or near it,

Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Higher still and higher

From the earth thou springest,
Like a cloud of fire;

The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

In the golden lightning

Of the sunken sun,
O'er which clouds are brightening,

Thou dost float and run,
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.
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The pale purple even

Melts around thy flight;
Like a star of heaven,

In the broad daylight,
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight.

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TO A SKYLARK

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Keen as are the arrows

Of that silver sphere,
Whose intense lamp narrows

In the white dawn clear,
Until we hardly see, we feel that it is there.

5 All the earth and air

With thy voice is loud,
As, when night is bare,

From one lonely cloud The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflowed.

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What thou art we know not;

What is most like thee?
From rainbow clouds there flow not

Drops so bright to see,
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.

Like a poet hidden

In the light of thought,
Singing hymns unbidden,

Till the world is wrought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not;

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Like a high-born maiden

In a palace tower,
Soothing her love-laden

Soul in secret hour
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower; 25

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