Lonely Beaches

By George Sterling

I have not seen those shores,
  But memories come of old sea-captains' tales,
  Whose worn, intrepid sails
Had refuge where the northern osprey soars.

On coasts forlorn and cold,
  Where mountains end, or fogs are on the lands,
  Lie those inviolate sands,
Mourned over by an ocean unconsoled.

No keel as here a home,
  But hour by hour the hesitating wave
  Hollows an emerald cave,
Crumbles in broken thunder, and is foam.

Here lie no homeward prints
  Of feet, and here no glowing flower dwells:
  The sunset-colored shells
Restore the rose and rainbow with their tints.

Often the silent gull
  Rests where the foam-flowers bloom and die, day long,
  On shores without a song,
  For very loneliness made beautiful.

Here the sandpipers feed,
  Or huddling, face the wind. Those flown, there lie
  The sand-scoured kelp, long dry
The sea-bird's bones, the moonstone and the weed.

On waves that poise and lean
  The sliding, pure quicksilver of the moon
  Makes ghostlier the dune.
The snows of sand and foam alike lie clean.

But man comes not to tread
  Those gleaming floors between the sea and land-
  The surf-enduring strand,
Cold as the Artic heavens overhead.


From old sea-captains' tales
  I find again the beaches that they found,
  And hear once more the sound
That reached them from the waters and the gales-

The twilight's far turquoise
  Along the dim horizon; winds that cry
  Below the wintry sky;
The stars of ocean and its mournful voice. 

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