To-day a bird on wings as white as foam
That crests the blue-gray wave,
With the vesper light upon its breast, flew home
Seaward. The God who gave
To the birds the virgin-wings of snow
Somehow telleth them the ways they go.
Unto the Evening went the white-winged bird --
Gray clouds hung round the West --
And far away the tempest's tramp was heard.
The bird flew for a rest
Away from the grove, out to the sea --
Is it only a bird's mystery?
Nay! nay! lone bird! I watched thy wings of white
That cleft thy waveward way --
Past the evening and swift into the night,
Out of the calm, bright day --
And thou didst teach me, bird of the sea,
More than one human heart's history.
Only men's hearts -- tho' God shows each its way
That leadeth hence to home --
Unlike the wild sea-birds, somehow go astray,
Seeking in the far foam
Of this strange world's tempest-trampled main
A resting place -- but they seek in vain.
Only the bird can rest upon the deep,
And sleep upon the wave,
And dream its peaceful dreams where wild winds sweep.
And sweet the God who gave
The birds a rest place on the restless sea --
But this, my heart, is not His way with thee.
Over the world, ah! passion's tempests roll,
And every fleck of foam
Whitens the place where sank some sin-wrecked soul
That never shall reach home.
Ah! the tranquil shore of God's sweet, calm grace,
My heart, is thy only resting place.
Sea Dreamings by Abram Joseph Ryan