The Chambered Nautilus

By Oliver Wendell Holmes

This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main,
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.

Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
Before thee lies revealed,
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!

Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year’s dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.

Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathéd horn!
While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

SIGN UP NOW!
Sign up for our poetry club and we'll let you know whenever we launch a new event, competition or service!
Get On The List
SIGN UP NOW!
Sign up for our poetry club and we'll let you know whenever we launch a new event, competition or service!
Get On The List

Dear Black Child - Grace Storm Ad

Dear Black Child - Grace Storm Ad
Dear Black Child - Grace Storm Ad
SIGN UP NOW!
Sign up for our poetry club and we'll let you know whenever we launch a new event, competition or service!
Get On The List
SIGN UP NOW!
Sign up for our poetry club and we'll let you know whenever we launch a new event, competition or service!
Get On The List
LEVEL UP!
Drop your email and we'll send you 25 poetry editing guidelines to help transform your creative writing!
Send It!
LEVEL UP!
Drop your email and we'll send you 25 poetry editing guidelines to help transform your creative writing!
Send It!
Get On The List
We'll let you know whenever we launch a new event, competition or service!
SIGN UP NOW!
Get On The List
We'll let you know whenever we launch a new event, competition or service!
SIGN UP NOW!