19th Century

The Sea (1845) | G. W. M. Reynolds

The following poem, titled ‘The Sea’,[1] was written by G.W.M. Reynolds and first appeared in the London Journal in 1845. It has been transcribed by Stephen Basdeo.


The deep, the fathomless, th’eternal sea,

Speaks with a thousand voices to the soul:

It sweetly smiles in its tranquillity,

And mocks when its infuriate billows roll.

It tells of roving pleasures to the free,

Hardship and toil to those beneath control,

And echoes, trumpet-tongued, the victor’s song

When gallant navies move its breast along.


The ocean, too, has morals of its own,

Imaging with its hues life’s phases ever;

First when the golden flood of sunlight’s thrown

Upon its surface; or when moon beams quiver:

Again, when darkness on its breast comes down,

Or when the lightning-shafts the dun clouds sever;

Or when, o’er sunken rocks, its hues are green—

Or, in th’horizon, azure and serene.


Thou hast within thy depths, I Mighty Sea!

To deck the brow of monarchs the bright gem;

And groves of rich red coral that should be

The poet’s theme, for him to sing of them;

The treasures too, of many an argosy,

And pearls to place in Beauty’s diadem!—

What countless lives and riches in thy womb,

Destructive element, have found a tomb!

[1] George W. M. Reynolds, ‘The Sea’, The London Journal, 12 April 1845, 112.