A Midsummer Holiday:- V. A Sea-Mark

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Rains have left the sea-banks ill to climb:
Waveward sinks the loosening seaboard’s floor:
Half the sliding cliffs are mire and slime.
Earth, a fruit rain-rotted to the core,
Drops dissolving down in flakes, that pour
Dense as gouts from eaves grown foul with grime.
One sole rock which years that scathe not score
Stands a sea-mark in the tides of time.
Time were even as even the rainiest clime,
Life were even as even this lapsing shore,
Might not aught outlive their trustless prime:
Vainly fear would wail or hope implore,
Vainly grief revile or love adore
Seasons clothed in sunshine, rain, or rime
Now for me one comfort held in store
Stands a sea-mark in the tides of time.
Once, by fate’s default or chance’s crime,
Each apart, our burdens each we bore;
Heard, in monotones like bells that chime,
Chime the sounds of sorrows, float and soar
Joy’s full carols, near or far before;
Heard not yet across the alternate rhyme
Time’s tongue tell what sign set fast of yore
Stands a sea-mark in the tides of time.
Friend, the sign we knew not heretofore
Towers in sight here present and sublime.
Faith in faith established evermore
Stands a sea-mark in the tides of time.

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