The Cross by the Sea


In the fall of the night when the rocks lay a-sleeping

And the waves gently fondled the slumberous shore,

When the moon was a sickle the frosty stars reaping,

The ocean unstirred by the dip of an oar;

When the cries of the day had fled on the night-wind,

The wind that did shout where zephyrs now sigh,

On the crest of a hill that the sunset once brightened

A cross stood high.


There was mystery abroad on the breast of the water

And spectral the moonlight upon the far hills;

There was whispering secret and subtle, and slaughter

Of little furred creatures by swift deadly bills.

Above on the headland, poised high o’er the shingle

It stood, a grey cross, weather beaten and old;

Where the scent of the thyme and the sea holly mingle

Its tale untold.


It was dumb, it was blind, yet it seemed aye to listen

To prayers that came soundlessly borne on the foam;

And it echoed strange cries where its granite did glisten,

The crying of curlews far distant from home.

It seemed to be guarding a place of no beauty,

A desolate region, unvisited, lost;

This symbol of love and pain and of duty,

Of selfless cost.


The oceans are loveless as the caves where they rumble,

And since earthly emblems of love must decay,

It will bow to the forces of time, it will crumble

And mingle its stone with the sands of the bay.

But the Form it once carried is lord of the ocean,

Creator of hills and the giver of day:

In His love must we trust when, with His last motion,

He sweeps earth away.



Weekly Times 8.12.61