by: Lucy Larcom (1824-1893)

      DO not own an inch of land,
      But all I see is mine,--
      The orchard and the mowing fields,
      The lawns and gardens fine.
      The winds my tax-collectors are,
      They bring me tithes divine,--
      Wild scents and subtle essences,
      A tribute rare and free;
      And, more magnificent than all,
      My window keeps for me
      A glimpse of blue immensity,--
      A little strip of sea.
      Richer am I than he who owns
      Great fleets and argosies;
      I have a share in every ship
      Won by the inland breeze,
      To loiter on yon airy road
      Above the apple-trees.
      I freight them with my untold dreams;
      Each bears my own picked crew;
      And nobler cargoes wait for them
      Than ever India knew,--
      My ships that sail into the East
      Across that outlet blue.
      Sometimes they seem like living shapes,--
      The people of the sky,--
      Guests in white raiment coming down
      From heaven, which is close by;
      I call them by familiar names,
      As one by one draws nigh.
      So white, so light, so spirit-like,
      From violet mists they bloom!
      The aching wastes of the unknown
      Are half reclaimed from gloom,
      Since on life's hospitable sea
      All souls find sailing-room.
      The ocean grows a weariness
      With nothing else in sight;
      Its east and west, its north and south,
      Spread out from morn till night;
      We miss the warm, caressing shore,
      Its brooding shade and light.
      A part is greater than the whole;
      By hints are mysteries told.
      The fringes of eternity,--
      God's sweeping garment-fold,
      In that bright shred of glittering sea,
      I reach out for and hold.
      The sails, like flakes of roseate pearl,
      Float in upon the mist;
      The waves are broken precious stones,--
      Sapphire and amethyst
      Washed from celestial basement walls,
      By suns unsettling kist.
      Out through the utmost gates of space,
      Past where the gray stars drift,
      To the widening Infinite, my soul
      Glides on, a vessel swift,
      Yet loses not her anchorage
      In yonder azure rift.
      Here sit I, as a little child;
      The threshold of God's door
      Is that clear band of chrysoprase;
      Now the vast temple floor,
      The blinding glory of the dome
      I bow my head before.
      Thy universe, O God, is home,
      In height or depth, to me;
      Yet here upon thy footstool green
      Content am I to be;
      Glad when is oped unto my need
      Some sea-like glimpse of Thee.

"A Strip of Blue" is reprinted from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900. Ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.




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