Drifting Flowers of the Sea

Across the dunes, in the waning light,
The rising moon pours her amber rays,
Through the slumbrous air of the dim, brown night
The pungent smell of the seaweed strays—
     From vast and trackless spaces
       Where wind and water meet,
         White flowers, that rise from the sleepless deep,
             Come drifting to my feet.
     They flutter the shore in a drowsy tune,
       Unfurl their bloom to the lightlorn sky,
         Allow a caress to the rising moon,
             Then fall to slumber, and fade, and die.

White flowers, a-bloom on the vagrant deep,
Like dreams of love, rising out of sleep,
You are the songs, I dreamt but never sung,
Pale hopes my thoughts alone have known,
Vain words ne’er uttered, though on the tongue,
That winds to the sibilant seas have blown.
      In you, I see the everlasting drift of years
        That will endure all sorrows, smiles and tears;
          For when the bell of time will ring the doom
            To all the follies of the human race,
               You still will rise in fugitive bloom
                  And garland the shores of ruined space.

More by Sadakichi Hartmann

Tanka

I. 

Winter? Spring? Who knows? 
White buds from the plumtrees wing 
And mingle with the snows. 
No blue skies these flowers bring, 
Yet their fragrance augurs Spring. 

II. 

Oh, were the white waves, 
Far on the glimmering sea 
That the moonshine laves, 
Dream flowers drifting to me,—
I would cull them, love, for thee. 

III. 

Moon, somnolent, white, 
Mirrored in a waveless sea, 
What fickle mood of night 
Urged thee from heaven to flee 
And live in the dawnlit sea? 

IV. 

Like mist on the leas, 
Fall gently, oh rain of Spring 
On the orange trees 
That to Ume's casement cling—
Perchance, she'll hear the love-bird sing. 

V. 

Though love has grown cold 
The woods are bright with flowers, 
Why not as of old 
Go to the wildwood bowers 
And dream of--bygone hours! 

VI. 

Tell, what name beseems 
These vain and wandering days! 
Like the bark of dreams 
That from souls at daybreak strays 
They are lost on trackless ways.

Why I Love Thee?

                 Why I love thee?;
     Ask why the seawind wanders,;
Why the shore is aflush with the tide,;
Why the moon through heaven meanders;
Like seafaring ships that ride;
On a sullen, motionless deep;;
      Why the seabirds are fluttering the strand;
       Where the waves sing themselves to sleep;
         And starshine lives in the curves of the sand!;

Related Poems

Sea Poppies

Amber husk
fluted with gold,
fruit on the sand
marked with a rich grain,

treasure
spilled near the shrub-pines
to bleach on the boulders:

your stalk has caught root
among wet pebbles
and drift flung by the sea
and grated shells
and split conch-shells.

Beautiful, wide-spread,
fire upon leaf,
what meadow yields
so fragrant a leaf
as your bright leaf?