Far, far below old Ocean's crested wave,
Deeper than lies the dark and mouldy grave,
Where nought is heard but water's plashing sound,
And all is strange dim mystery around;
Away, away, in liquid depths beneath,
Where none of mortal race could live or breathe,
What wondrous earth-like forms are these
The startled, awe-struck diver sees?
A lady stood upon the shatter'd deck,
As if her home were on that sunken wreck,
One jewell'd arm around the rigging flung,
While to its cordage damp her white hand clung;
She stood erect, and bow'd with graceful head
To him--th' intruder on the ocean's dead.
Rich in attire, of beauty rare,
What does that stately lady there?
Is she some spirit from the shadowy world,
Haunting the bark whose sudden shipwreck hurl'd
Beings beloved, from light and life, to this
Cold, gloomy, solitary, deep abyss?
Comes she to mourn those now in ocean's bed,
O'er whom no hallow'd parting prayer was said,
Whose bones, untomb'd, must whiten there
Till the last trumpet fills the air?
Or do his senses wander? Can she be
One of those fabled daughters of the sea
Who ride the billows 'midst the raging storm,
Or on the undulating waves, whose form
Is seen to blend with the calm moonlight ray,
Half hidden by the ocean's foaming spray?
Mermaid or spirit--there she stood,
Immersed in the chill, briny flood!
And nearer as the mail-clad diver drew,
Lo! other figures burst upon his view--
Children in placid sleep, and infants clasp'd
In rigid arms that still their treasures grasp'd.
Strange mockery of life was yonder sight!
Strange victory o'er death's destroying might!
How came the touch of foul decay
Thus warded from these forms away?
He only knows, whose laws Nature obeys--
Laws from which man alone too often strays.
The diver's quest was gold--'twas quickly found;
Who could purloin it 'midst the hapless drown'd?
He leaves these life-like figures to their fate,
The last great day, in ocean's depths, to wait;
When all the dead, in earth and sea,
Shall rise to meet--ETERNITY!