In the Roar of the Ocean

By James Stanley Gilbert

 

Come closer, stranger, closer to the shore,

And listen, listen, listen to that roar!

Do you know what that means to us, my man?

Ah, no! not you—not anybody can,

Unless he's lived for years upon this beach,

And learned the lessons that old sea doth teach.

 

To him whose daily lot from year to year

Has been its never-ceasing voice to hear;

To him whose keen-trained ear at once detects

Each modulation that its pitch affects;

To him who hears when others cannot hear

The far, faint plash so like a falling tear,

That tells of hours of torrid heat and calm,

When fever lingers underneath the palm—

It means that Mistress Reef, the Malapert,

For three grand months shall hide her draggled skirt

Beneath a gown of foam-laced, gleaming green,

Beside which pales the wardrobe of a queen!

It means that yonder sibilant lagoon

Its pools of stagnant slime shall banish soon!

That suns, the brightest that were ever known,

That stars, the clearest that have ever shone,

Shall guide the day, direct the smiling night

Thro' tropic paths of unalloyed delight!

 

It mean that for these months a breeze shall blow

That hath its source in caves of Arctic snow!

That beareth on its ozone-laden breath

That Balm of Life: the Antidote of Death!

 

It means all this! Aye, infinitely more!

So closer, stranger, closer to the shore,

And listen, listen, listen to that roar!