The Sea-Promise  


(Sam at the Grey Havens)


          Beside the ancient sea-wall bare,
          Grief-frozen in the twilight there,
          He leans into the trembling air,
          His eyes in bleak, unhappy stare
                        Fixed upon the shipless sea.
          Twixt arms of land set gaunt and grey,
          The water and the dimming day
          Run ever wed to curve away
                        Into eternity.

          With foamy breath and muted roar,
          The tide below beats on the shore
          And tells a tale told oft before
          Of those who seek the hidden door
                        Into the Uttermost West.
          Farewells he hears from years gone by,
          That linger in the seagull’s cry
          And whisper to him listening nigh
                        Like phantoms seeking rest.

          Tomorrow’s hopes and joys forgot,
          Long into night he waits for naught,
          And then, his shoulders sudden taut
          As quick he peers, attention caught,
                        A moment’s bright-glinting dream.
          Sped now the pounding of his heart,
          He sees the black horizon part;
          A sea-road gleams like silver dart
                        Shot level o’er the stream.

          A flash as of a mirrored dawn,
          The vision passes and is gone,
          A token swift and swift withdrawn;
          The timeless sea throbs gently on,
                        E’er turning and e’er the same.
          His friends stir softly at his side
          And as they turn to homeward ride,
          Know nothing of the Road he spied
          Nor that e’en as its glimmer died,
          Like Elven-bells upon the tide
                        It sang to him his name.


C. Baillie / '03