Published on Academy of American Poets (

O Sea, That Knowest Thy Strength

Hast thou been known to sing,
        O sea, that knowest thy strength?
Hast thou been known to sing? 
        Thy voice, can it rejoice?
Naught save great sorrowing,
        To me, thy sounds incessant
Do express, naught save great sorrowing.
Thy lips, they daily kiss the sand,
        In wanton mockery.
Deep in thine awful heart
        Thou dost not love the land.
        Thou dost not love the land.
        O sea, that knowest thy strength.

“These sands, these listless, helpless,
        Sun-gold sands, I’ll play with these,
Or crush them in my white-fanged hands
        For leagues, to please
The thing in me that is the Sea,
        Intangible, untamed,
        Untamed and wild,
        And wild and weird and strong!”


This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 28, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“O Sea, That Knowest Thy Strength” appeared in Volume 13, No. 5 of The Crisis.


Effie Lee Newsome

Effie Lee Newsome was born in 1885 in Philadelphia. One of the first African American poets who primarily published poems for children, she was the author of one volume of poetry, Gladiola Garden (The Associated Publishers, 1940),

Date Published: 1917-03-28

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