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The Secrets of the Sea

From The Birmingham Age-Herald, January 2, 1913.
 By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

 Ah, what pleasant visions haunt me
     As I gaze upon the sea!
 All the old romantic legends,
     All my dreams come back to me.
 Sails of silk and ropes of sandal,
     Such as gleam in ancient lore;
 And the singing of the sailors
     And the answer from the shore!
 Most of all the Spanish ballad
     Haunts one oft and tarries long,
 Of the noble Count Arnaldos
     And the sailors mystic song.
 Like the long waves on a sea-beach,
     Where the sand as silver shines
 With a soft, monotonous cadence
     Flow its unrhymed lyric lines—
 Telling how the count Arnaldos,
     With his hawk upon his hand,
 Saw a fair and stately galley
     Steering onward to the land—
 How he heard the ancient helmsman
     Chant a song so wild and clear
 That the sailing sea-bird slowly
     Poised upon the mast to hear—
 Till his soul was full of longing,
     And he cried with impulse strong—
 “Helmsman! For the love of heaven,
     Teach me, too, that wondrous song!”
 “Wouldst thou (so the helmsman answered),
     Learn the secret of the sea?
 Only those who brave its dangers
     Comprehend its mystery.”
 In each sail that skims the horizon,
     In each landyard blowing breeze,
 I behold that stately galley,
     Hear those mournful melodies—
 Till my soul is full of longing
     For the secret of the sea,
 And the heart of the great ocean
     Sends a thrilling pulse through me.

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