At Sea

A poem by John Charles McNeill

When the dim, tall sails of the ships were in motion,
Ghostly, and slow, and silent-shod,
We gazed where the dusk fled over the ocean,
A great gray hush, like the shadow of God.

The sky dome cut with its compass in sunder
A circle of sea from the darkened land,--
A circle of tremulous waste and wonder,
O'er which one groped with a childish hand.

The true stars came to their stations in heaven,
The false stars shivered deep down in the sea,
And the white crests went like monsters, driven
By winds that never would let them be,

And there, where the elements mingled and muttered,
We stood, each man with a lone dumb heart,
Full of the vastness that never was uttered
By symbol of words or by echo of art.

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