The sandy spits, the shore-lock’d lakes, 
   Melt into open, moonlit sea; 
The soft Mediterranean breaks 
            At my feet, free. 

Dotting the fields of corn and vine 
   Like ghosts, the huge, gnarl’d olives stand;
Behind, that lovely mountain-line! 
            While by the strand 

Cette, with its glistening houses white, 
   Curves with the curving beach away
To where the lighthouse beacons bright 
            Far in the bay.

Ah, such a night, so soft, so lone, 
   So moonlit, saw me once of yore 
Wander unquiet, and my own
            Vext heart deplore! 

The murmur of this Midland deep 
   Is heard to-night around thy grave 
There where Gibraltar’s cannon’d steep
            O’erfrowns the wave. 

In cities should we English lie, 
   Where cries are rising ever new, 
And men’s incessant stream goes by;
            We who pursue 

Our business with unslackening stride, 
   Traverse in troops, with care-fill’d breast, 
The soft Mediterranean side, 
            The Nile, the East, 

And see all sights from pole to pole, 
   And glance, and nod, and bustle by; 
And never once possess our soul 
            Before we die. 

Not by those hoary Indian hills, 
   Not by this gracious Midland sea
Whose floor to-night sweet moonshine fills, 
            Should our graves be! 

Some sage, to whom the world was dead,
   And men were specks, and life a play;
Who made the roots of trees his bed, 
            And once a day 

With staff and gourd his way did bend
   To villages and homes of man, 
For food to keep him till he end 
            His mortal span, 

And the pure goal of Being reach;
   Grey-headed, wrinkled, clad in white, 
Without companion, without speech, 
            By day and night 

Pondering God’s mysteries untold,
   And tranquil as the glacier snows––
He by those Indian mountains old 
            Might well repose!

Some grey crusading knight austere 
   Who bore Saint Louis company 
And came home hurt to death and here 
            Landed to die;

Some youthful troubadour whose tongue 
   Fill’d Europe once with his love-pain, 
Who here outwearied sunk, and sung
            His dying strain;

Some girl who here from castle-bower,
   With furtive step and cheek of flame,
’Twixt myrtle-hedges all in flower 
            By moonlight came 

To meet her pirate-lover’s ship, 
   And from the wave-kiss’d marble stair 
Beckon’d him on, with quivering lip 
            And unbound hair, 

And lived some moons in happy trance, 
   Then learnt his death, and pined away––
Such by these waters of romance
            ’Twas meet to lay! 

But you––a grave for knight or sage, 
   Romantic, solitary, still, 
O spent ones of a work-day age!
            Befits you ill. 

So sang I; but the midnight breeze 
   Down to the brimm’d moon-charmed main
Comes softly through the olive-trees,
            And checks my strain. 

I think of her, whose gentle tongue 
   All plaint in her own cause controll’d;
Of thee I think, my brother! young 
            In heart, high-soul’d;

That comely face, that cluster’d brow,
   That cordial hand, that bearing free, 
I see them still, I see them now, 
            Shall always see! 

And what but gentleness untired, 
   And what but noble feeling warm, 
Wherever shown, howe’er attired, 
            Is grace, is charm?

What else is all these waters are, 
   What else is steep’d in lucid sheen,
What else is bright, what else is fair, 
            What else serene?

Mild o’er her grave, ye mountains, shine! 
   Gently by his, ye waters, glide! 
To that in you which is divine
            They were allied.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 9, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.