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 start reaping,
The ocean unstirr’d by the dip of an oar;
When the cries of the day had fled on the night wind,
The wind that did shout where the 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, weatherbeaten and old;
Where the scent of the thyme and the seaholly 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 it 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 of 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.

13. 3. 1928