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by William Cullen Bryant


A day-dream by the dark-blue deep;

Was it a dreamor something more?

I sat where Posilippo's steep

With its gray shelveso'erhung the shore. -

On ruined Roman walls around

The poppy flauntedfor 'twas May;

And at my feetwith gentle sound

Broke the light billows of the bay. -

I sat and watched the eternal flow

Of those smooth billows toward the shore

While quivering lines of light below

Ran with them on the ocean-floor: -

Tillfrom the deepthere seemed to rise

White arms upon the waves outspread

Young faceslit with soft blue eyes

And smoothround cheeksjust touched with red. -

Their longfair tressestinged with gold

Lay floating on the ocean-streams

And such their brows as bards behold-

Love-stricken bards- in morning dreams. -

Then moved their coral lips; a strain

Lowsweet and sorrowfulI heard

As if the murmurs of the main

Were shaped to syllable and word. -

"The sight thou dimly dost behold

Ohstranger from a distant sky!

Was oftenin the days of old

Seen by the clearbelieving eye. -

"Then danced we on the wrinkled sand

Sat in cool caverns by the sea

Or wandered up the bloomy land

To talk with shepherds on the lea. -

"To usin stormsthe seaman prayed

And where our rustic altars stood

His little children came and laid

The fairest flowers of field and wood. -

"Oh woea longunending woe!

For who shall knit the ties again

That linked the sea-nymphslong ago

In kindly fellowship with men? -

"Earth rears her flowers for us no more;

A half-remembered dream are we;

Unseen we haunt the sunny shore

And swimunmarkedthe glassy sea. -

"And we have none to love or aid

But wanderheedless of mankind

With shadows by the cloud-rack made

With moaning wave and sighing wind. -

"Yet sometimesas in elder days

We come before the painter's eye

Or fix the sculptor's eager gaze

With no profaner witness nigh. -

"And then the words of men grow warm

With praise and wonderasking where

The artist saw the perfect form

He copied forth in lines so fair." -

As thus they spokewith wavering sweep

Floated the graceful forms away;

Dimmer and dimmerthrough the deep

I saw the white arms gleam and play. -

Fainter and fainteron mine ear

Fell the soft accents of their speech

Till Iat lastcould only hear

The waves run murmuring up the beach. - -