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Lord Byron

Apostrophe to the Ocean

Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean—roll!

Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;

Man marks the earth with ruin—his control

Stops with the shore;—upon the watery plain

The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain

A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,

When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,

He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,

Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.

The armaments which thunderstrike the walls

Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake,

And monarchs tremble in their capitals;

The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make

Their clay creator the vain title take

Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war;—

These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake,

They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar

Alike the Armada's pride, or spoils of Trafalgar.

Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee—

Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage,—what are they?

Thy waters wasted them while they were free

And many a tyrant since; their shores obey

The stranger, slave or savage; their decay

Has dried up realms to deserts:—not so thou;

Unchangeable, save to they wild waves play—

Time writes no wrinkles on thine azure brow:

Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.

Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form

Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,

Calm or convulsed—in breeze or gale or storm

Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime

Dark heaving; boundless, endless, and sublime—

The image of Eternity—the throne

Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime

The monsters of the deep are made; each zone

Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.

And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy

Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be

Borne, like thy bubbles, onward; from a boy

I wantoned with thy breakers—they to me

Were a delight; and if the freshening sea

Made them a terror, 'twas a pleasing fear;

For I was, as it were, a child of thee,

And trusted to thy billows far and near,

And laid my hand upon thy mane—as I do here.