The City and the Sea


To none the city bends a servile knee; 
   Purse-proud and scornful, on her heights she stands, 
And at her feet the great white moaning sea 
   Shoulders incessantly the grey-gold sands,—
One the Almighty’s a child since time began, 
   And one the might of Mammon, born of clods; 
For all the city is the work of man, 
   But all the sea is God’s. 


And she—between the ocean and the town—
   Lies cursed of one and by the other blest: 
Her staring eyes, her long drenched hair, her gown, 
   Sea-laved and soiled and dank above her breast. 
She, image of her God since life began, 
   She, but the child of Mammon, born of clods, 
Her broken body spoiled and spurned of man, 
   But her sweet soul is God’s. 

From Flint and Feather: The Complete Poems of E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) (The Musson Book Co., Limited, 1917) by Emily Pauline Johnson. This poem is in the public domain.