She was strange as the orchids that blossom
And glimmer and shower their balm
And bloom on the tropical ocean,
That crystals round islands of palm:
And she sang to and beckoned and bound me
With beauty immortal and calm.
She was wild as the spirits that banner,
Auroral, the ends of the Earth,
With polar processions, that battle
With Darkness; or, breathing, give birth
To Silence; and herd from the mountains
The icebergs, gigantic of girth.
She was silver as sylphids who blend with
The morning the pearl of their cheeks:
And rosy as spirits whose tresses
Trail golden the sunset with streaks:
An opaline presence that beckoned
And spake as the sea-rapture speaks:
"Come with me! come down in the ocean!
Yea, leave this dark region with me!
Come! leave it! forget it in thunder
And roll of the infinite sea!
Come with me! No mortal bliss equals
The bliss I shall give unto thee." . . .
And so it was then that she bound me
With witchcraft no mortal divines,
While softly with kisses she drew me,
As the moon draws a dream from the pines,
Down, down to her cavern of coral,
Where ever the sea-serpent twines.
And ever the creatures, whose shadows
Bulk huge as an isle on the sight,
Swim cloud-like and vast, without number,
Around her who leans, like a light,
And smiles at me sleeping, pale-sleeping,
Wrapped deep in her mermaiden might.