Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant


HAIL, boundless Ocean! mighty rolling deep!
Thou ever restless, still rejoicing sea!
Now slowly heaving in thine awful sleep,
Now wildly roaring in glad revelry.
The stars look glorious in their silent place;
The fixed hills in tranquil grandeur stand;
The moon renews her gentle, smiling face;
The sun proclaims his Maker's bounteous hand—
"In solemn silence all;" while thy glad voice
Went forth at first in its eternal roar,
And billow after billow cries, Rejoice!
In ceaseless murmurs on the sounding shore,
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I love to stand upon the giant rock
That thrusts his scowling front against the wave,
And feel the trembling from the mighty shock,
And hear it roaring through each hollow cave;
Then mark the billows gathering up their force,
Tossing their foam back like a lion's mane;
And, rushing on in their exulting course,
In idle murmurs swift recoil again.
And, while the baffled waters seem to sleep,
Far off they gather mightier than before;
Onward they move, with slow, majestic sweep,
And break in thunder round the rocky shore.
There is a power within me that awakes
Mid this wild conflict of the stormy sea;
And moves, and swells, and its stern thraldom breaks,
And heaves and pants for immortality.
This wind must die away ere long, and thou,
Old Ocean, must recall thy truant waves;
Dress thee with smiles, and smooth thy furrow'd brow,
And calmly rest thee in thy silent caves:
While, restless, by no earthly shores confined,
The sea of Thought nor ebb nor limit knows,
Fed from the fountains of Creative Mind,
Through realms, through worlds unknown for ever flows.