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Far and Near

[The fact to which the following verses refer, is related by Dr. Edward Clarke in his Travels.]



Blue sunny skies above; below,
A blue and sunny sea;
A world of blue, wherein did blow
One soft wind steadily.

In great and solemn heaves, the mass
Of pulsing ocean beat,
Unwrinkled as the sea of glass
Beneath the holy feet.

With forward leaning of desire,
The ship sped calmly on,
A pilgrim strong that would not tire,
Nor hasten to be gone.

The mouth of the mysterious Nile,
Full thirty leagues away,
Breathed in his ear old tales to wile
Old Ocean as he lay.

Low on the surface of the sea
Faint sounds like whispers glide
Of lovers talking tremulously,
Close by the vessel's side.

Or as within a sleeping wood
A windy sigh awoke,
And fluttering all the leafy brood,
The summer-silence broke.

A wayward phantasy might say
That little ocean-maids
Were clapping little hands of play,
Deep down in ocean-glades.

The traveller by land and flood,
The man of ready mind,
Much questioning the reason, stood--
No answer could he find.

That day, on Egypt's distant land,
And far from off the shore,
Two nations fought with armed hand,
With bellowing cannon's roar.

That fluttering whisper, low and near,
Was the far battle-blare;
An airy rippling motion here,
The blasting thunder there.

And so this aching in my breast,
Dim, faint, and undefined,
May be the sound of far unrest,
Borne on the spirit's wind;

The uproar of the battle fought
Betwixt the bond and free;
The thundering roll in whispers brought
From Heaven's artillery.



George MacDonald