The moon is at her full, and, riding high, Floods the calm fields with light; The airs that hover in the summer-sky Are all asleep to-night. There comes no voice from the great woodlands round That murmured all the day; Beneath the shadow of their boughs the ground Is not more still than they. But ever heaves and moans the restless Deep; His rising tides I hear, Afar I see the glimmering billows leap; I see them breaking near. Each wave springs upward, climbing toward the fair Pure light that sits on high— Springs eagerly, and faintly sinks, to where 253The mother-waters lie. Upward again it swells; the moonbeams show Again its glimmering crest; Again it feels the fatal weight below, And sinks, but not to rest. Again and yet again; until the Deep Recalls his brood of waves; And, with a sullen moan, abashed, they creep Back to his inner caves. Brief respite! they shall rush from that recess With noise and tumult soon, And fling themselves, with unavailing stress, Up toward the placid moon. O restless Sea, that, in thy prison here, Dost struggle and complain; Through the slow centuries yearning to be near To that fair orb in vain; The glorious source of light and heat must warm Thy billows from on high, And change them to the cloudy trains that form The curtain of the sky. Then only may they leave the waste of brine In which they welter here, And rise above the hills of earth, and shine In a serener sphere.
Enjoy Rob Velella's The American Literary Blog post about this poem. You may also enjoy reading our collection of Nature Poems.
Return to the William Cullen Bryant library , or . . . Read the next poem; The Twenty-Seventh of March