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Sea-Shore Memories

Walt Whitman 1819 (West Hills) – 1892 (Camden)

  OUT of the cradle endlessly rocking,
  Out of the mocking-bird's throat, the musical shuttle,
  Out of the Ninth-month midnight,
  Over the sterile sands, and the fields beyond, where the child,
  leaving his bed, wander'd alone, bare-headed, barefoot,
  Down from the shower'd halo,
  Up from the mystic play of shadows, twining and twisting as if they
  were alive,
  Out from the patches of briers and blackberries,
  From the memories of the bird that chanted to me,
  From your memories, sad brother--from the fitful risings and fallings
  I heard,
  From under that yellow half-moon, late-risen, and swollen as if with
  tears, 10
  From those beginning notes of sickness and love, there in the
  transparent mist,
  From the thousand responses of my heart, never to cease,
  From the myriad thence-arous'd words,
  From the word stronger and more delicious than any,
  From such, as now they start, the scene revisiting,
  As a flock, twittering, rising, or overhead passing,
  Borne hither--ere all eludes me, hurriedly,
  A man--yet by these tears a little boy again,
  Throwing myself on the sand, confronting the waves,
  I, chanter of pains and joys, uniter of here and hereafter, 20
  Taking all hints to use them--but swiftly leaping beyond them,
  A reminiscence sing.

  Once, Paumanok,
  When the snows had melted--when the lilac-scent was in the air, and
  the Fifth-month grass was growing,
  Up this sea-shore, in some briers,
  Two guests from Alabama--two together,
  And their nest, and four light-green eggs, spotted with brown,
  And every day the he-bird, to and fro, near at hand,
  And every day the she-bird, crouch'd on her nest, silent, with bright
  And every day I, a curious boy, never too close, never disturbing
  them, 30
  Cautiously peering, absorbing, translating.

  Shine! shine! shine!
  Pour down your warmth, great Sun!
  While we bask--we two together.

  Two together!
  Winds blow South, or winds blow North,
  Day come white, or night come black,
  Home, or rivers and mountains from home,
  Singing all time, minding no time,
  While we two keep together. 40

  Till of a sudden,
  May-be kill'd, unknown to her mate,
  One forenoon the she-bird crouch'd not on the nest,
  Nor return'd that afternoon, nor the next,
  Nor ever appear'd again.

  And thenceforward, all summer, in the sound of the sea,
  And at night, under the full of the moon, in calmer weather,
  Over the hoarse surging of the sea,
  Or flitting from brier to brier by day,
  I saw, I heard at intervals, the remaining one, the he-bird, 50
  The solitary guest from Alabama.

  Blow! blow! blow!
  Blow up, sea-winds, along Paumanok's shore!
  I wait and I wait, till you blow my mate to me.

  Yes, when the stars glisten'd,
  All night long, on the prong of a moss-scallop'd stake,
  Down, almost amid the slapping waves,
  Sat the lone singer, wonderful, causing tears.

  He call'd on his mate;
  He pour'd forth the meanings which I, of all men, know. 60

  Yes, my brother, I know;
  The rest might not--but I have treasur'd every note;
  For once, and more than once, dimly, down to the beach gliding,
  Silent, avoiding the moonbeams, blending myself with the shadows,
  Recalling now the obscure shapes, the echoes, the sounds and sights
  after their sorts,
  The white arms out in the breakers tirelessly tossing,
  I, with bare feet, a child, the wind wafting my hair,
  Listen'd long and long.

  Listen'd, to keep, to sing--now translating the notes,
  Following you, my brother. 70

  Soothe! soothe! soothe!
  Close on its wave soothes the wave behind,
  And again another behind, embracing and lapping, every one close,
  But my love soothes not me, not me.

  Low hangs the moon--it rose late;
  O it is lagging--O I think it is heavy with love, with love.

  O madly the sea pushes, pushes upon the land,
  With love--with love.

  O night! do I not see my love fluttering out there among the
  What is that little black thing I see there in the white? 80

  Loud! loud! loud!
  Loud I call t
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:24 min read

Walt Whitman

Walter "Walt" Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist. more…

All Walt Whitman poems | Walt Whitman Books

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    "Sea-Shore Memories" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 23 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/38133/sea-shore-memories>.

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