[The fact which suggested this poem is related by Clarke in his Travels.]
Blue sky above, blue sea below,
Far off, the old Nile's mouth,
'Twas a blue world, wherein did blow
A soft wind from the south.
In great and solemn heaves the mass
Of pulsing ocean beat,
Unwrinkled as the sea of glass
Beneath the holy feet.
With forward leaning of desire
The ship sped calmly on,
A pilgrim strong that would not tire
Or hasten to be gone.
List!--on the wave!--what can they be,
Those sounds that hither glide?
No lovers whisper tremulously
Under the ship's round side!
No sail across the dark blue sphere
Holds white obedient way;
No far-fled, sharp-winged boat is near,
No following fish at play!
'Tis not the rippling of the wave,
Nor sighing of the cords;
No winds or waters ever gave
A murmur so like words;
Nor wings of birds that northward strain,
Nor talk of hidden crew:
The traveller questioned, but in vain--
He found no answer true.
A hundred level miles away,
On Egypt's troubled shore,
Two nations fought, that sunny day,
With bellowing cannons' roar.
The fluttering whisper, low and near,
Was that far battle's blare;
A lipping, rippling motion here,
The blasting thunder there.
Can this dull sighing in my breast
So faint and undefined,
Be the worn edge of far unrest
Borne on the spirit's wind?
The uproar of high battle fought
Betwixt the bond and free,
The thunderous roll of armed thought
Dwarfed to an ache in me?