Robert Bloomfield

A First View of the Sea

ARE these the famed, the brave South Downs,
  That like a chain of pearls appear;
Their pale-green sides and graceful crowns?
  To freedom, thought, and peace, how dear!
To freedom, for no fence is seen;
  To thought, for silence soothes the way;
To peace, for o’er the boundless green
  Unnumbered flocks and shepherds stray.

Now, now we ’ve gained the utmost height:
  Where shall we match the vale below?
The Weald of Sussex, glorious sight,
  Old Chankbury, from the tufted brow.
And here old Sissa, so they tell,
  The Saxon monarch, closed his days;
I judge they played their parts right well,
  But cannot stop to sing their praise.

For yonder, near the ocean’s brim,
  I see, I taste, the coming joy;
There Mary binds the withered limb,—
  The mother tends the poor lame boy.
My heart is there—Sleep, Romans, sleep;
  And what are Saxon kings to me?
Let me, O thou majestic Deep,
  Let me descend to love and thee.

And may thy calm, fair-flowing tide
  Bring Peace and Hope, and bid them live;
And Night, whilst wandering by thy side,
  Teach wisdom,—teach me to forgive.
Then, when my heart is whole again,
  And Fancy’s renovated wing
Sweeps o’er the terrors of thy reign,
  Strong on my soul those terrors bring.

Oaks, British oaks, form all its shade,
  Dark as a forest’s ample crown;
Yet by rich herds how cheerful made,
  And countless spots of harvest brown!
But what ’s yon southward dark-blue line,
  Along the horizon’s utmost bound,
On which the weary clouds recline,
  Still varying half the circle round?

The sea! the sea! my God! the sea!
  Yon sunbeams on its bosom play!
With milk-white sails expanded free
  There ploughs the bark her cheerful way!
I come, I come, my heart beats high;
  The greensward stretches southward still;
Soft in the breeze the heath-bells sigh;
  Up, up, we scale another hill!

A spot where once the eagle towered
  O’er Albion’s green primeval charms,
And where the harmless wild-thyme flowered
  Did Rome’s proud legions pile their arms.
In Infant’s haunts I ’ve dreamed of thee,
  And where the crystal brook ran by
Marked sands and waves and open sea,
  And gazed, but with an infant’s eye.

’T was joy to pass the stormy hour
  In groves, when childhood knew no more;
Increase that joy, tremendous power,
  Loud let thy world of waters roar.
And if the scene reflection drowns,
  Or draws too strongly rapture’s tear,
I ’ll change it for these lovely Downs,
  This calm smooth turf, and worship here!

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