AN OLD INN BY THE SEA
by: Odell Shepard (1884-1967)
- LL night
long we had heard the voice of the Sea
- Roaming the corridors.
- Across the worn and hollow floors
- There went a ghostly tread incessantly.
- The walls of our old inn,
- By windy winters eaten grey and thin,
- Trembled and shook, the wild night long,
- With resonant, vague, hoarse-throated song
- Like a storm-strung violin.
- All night we heard vast forces throng
- To onset in the dark, indomitably strong,
- An army under sable banners flying.
- And then, above the din
- Of far wild voices crying
- And farther, wilder voices dreadfully replying,
- Slowly, far down the unseen mysterious shore,
- With fearful sibilance and long unintermittent roar,
- We heard another, mightier tide begin!
- Then our hearts shook, there on the world's wide rim
- Fronting eternity and neighboring the Abyss.
- Had we not cowered all night from the face of Him,
- The King of Terrors, from the coil and hiss
- Of the pale snakes of death
- Writhing about our very door?
- Had we not borne his clammy breath
- Upon our hair
- Nightlong, and his stealthy footstep on the stair,
- His vast voice everywhere?
- Had not each echoing wall and hollow floor,
- Worn by his winds so grey and spectre-thin,
- Resounded like the shell of a fragile violin
- That screams once at its death and never more?
- Had He not homage of our fear enough before
- He sent this last dark cohort crashing in?
POEMS BY ODELL SHEPARD
"An Old Inn by the Sea"
is reprinted from The Masque of Poets. Ed. Edward J. O'Brien.
New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1918.