Fourteen small broidered berries on the hern
Of Circe's mantle, each of magic gold; Fourteen of lone Calypso's tears that rolled
Into the sea, for pearls to come to them; Fourteen clear signs of omen in the gem
With which Medea human fate foretold Fourteen small drops, which Fautus, growing old,
Craved of the Fiend, to water Life's stem
From What the Sonnet Is.
To keep through life the posture of the grave,
While others walk and run and dance and leap.
The hollow sea-shell, which for years hath stood
On dusty shelves, when held against the ear
Proclaims its stormy parent, and we hear
The faint, far murmur of the breaking flood.
We hear the sea. The Sea? It is the blood
In our own veins, impetuous and near.
Sonnet. Sea-shell Murmurs, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919). Compare: "Gather a shell from the strewn beach / And listen at its lips: they sigh / The same desire and mystery, / The echo of the whole sea's speech", Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Sea Hints; "I send thee a shell from the ocean-beach; But listen thou well, for my shell hath speech. Hold to thine ear / And plain thou'lt hear / Tales of ships", Charles Henry Webb, With a Nantucket Shell.