Submarine Mountains

Cale Young Rice
Under the sea, which is their sky, they rise
   To watery altitudes as vast as those 
   Of far Himalayan peaks impent in snows 
   And veils of cloud and sacred deep repose. 
Under the sea, their flowing firmament, 
   More dark than any ray of sun can pierce, 
   The earthquake thrust them up with mighty tierce 
And left them to be seen but by the eyes 
Of awed imagination inward bent. 

Their vegetation is the viscid ooze, 
   Whose mysteries are past belief or thought. 
   Creation seems around them devil-wrought, 
   Or by some cosmic urgence gone distraught. 
Adown their precipices chill and dense 
   With the dank midnight creep or crawl or climb 
   Such tentacled and eyeless things of slime, 
Such monster shapes as tempt us to accuse 
Life of a miscreative impotence. 

About their peaks the shark, their eagle, floats, 
   In the thick azure far beneath the air, 
   Or downward sweeps upon what prey may dare 
   Set forth from any silent weedy lair. 
But one desire on all their slopes is found, 
   Desire of food, the awful hunger strife, 
   Yet here, it may be, was begun our life, 
Here all the dreams on which our vision dotes 
In unevolved obscurity were bound. 

Too strange it is, too terrible! And yet 
   It matters not how we were wrought or whence 
   Life came to us with all its throb intense, 
   If in it is a Godly Immanence. 
It matters not,—if haply we are more 
   Than creatures half-conceived by a blind force 
   That sweeps the universe in a chance course: 
For only in Unmeaning Might is met 
The intolerable thought none can ignore.

More by Cale Young Rice

Haunted Seas

A gleaming glassy ocean 
  Under a sky of grey; 
A tide that dreams of motion, 
  Or moves, as the dead may; 
A bird that dips and wavers 
  Over lone waters round, 
Then with a cry that quavers 
  Is gone—a spectral sound.

The brown sad sea-weed drifting 
  Far from the land, and lost; 
The faint warm fog unlifting, 
  The derelict long tossed, 
But now at rest—though haunted 
  By the death-scenting shark, 
Whose prey no more undaunted 
  Slips from it, spent and stark.

The Immanent God

See your God in the jelly-fish, 
Sucking salty food. 
See Him drift in the gulf-weed, 
In shark-bellies brood. 
See Him feed with the gull there, 
In a grey ship's wake. 
Feel Him afresh 
In your own hot flesh 
When into lust you break. 

Hear His wrath in the hurricane, 
Hushing a hundred lives. 
Hist His heave in the earthquake, 
In volcano hives. 
Hark His stride in the plague-wind, 
Over a sterile shore: 
Down in a mine 
Behold what wine 
Of coal-damp He will pour. 

Aye, and there in the ribaldry 
Of a night-wench's song 
Hear Him—or on a child's lips 
Cursing a slum-mate's wrong. 
Stark He starves in the street there, 
Or, full-fed, will go: 
He, your God, 
In every clod 
Or clot of human woe. 

And—in every infamy 
Loathed by you with shame. 
Clear of the saddest soul-stench 
None can keep His name. 
Man's, you may say, all crime is, 
But Who gave man birth? 
Spawn of the years 
Is he—with tears 
And strife to give him worth. 

Spawn of the Universes, 
God's great flesh and bone. 
Stars are the cells that float there, 
Through lymph-ether strown. 
Dying, living, and dead there, 
Coming again to birth 
Out of a Womb 
That was their Tomb 
Are they—and is our earth. 

Such is your Immanent God—yea, 
Evil as well as good, 
Vileness even as beauty 
Holds His strange Godhood. 
Great He seems in the sea's surge, 
Fair in a woman's face, 
Yet with the worm 
He feeds a term 
On every goodly grace. 

Spirit, then, you may hold Him, 
High of plan and hope. 
But world-flesh does He strive with, 
Yearn like us—and grope; 
So must ever and oft seem 
Avid to escape 
From the hid yeast 
That moulds the least 
Of all things to His shape. 

Spirit, may be—or haply 
We had known no growth, 
But in a slime primeval 
Still would dwell in sloth. 
Yet if such is His Being, 
Finite is His need. 
To the same ends 
As earth He wends 
And journeying must bleed.

Passage

A dark sail,
Like a wild-goose wing,
Where the sunset was.
The moon soon will silver its sinewy flight
Thro the night watches,
And the far flight
Of those immortal migrants,
The ever-returning stars.