The Ashes in the Sea

by George Sterling (1869–1926)

                        N. M. F.

Whither, with blue and pleading eyes,—
    Whither, with cheeks that held the light
Of winter’s dawn on cloudless skies,
        Evadne, was thy flight?

Such as a sister’s was thy brow;
    Thy hair seemed fallen from the moon—
Part of its radiance, as now,
        Of shifting tide and dune.

Did Autumn’s grieving lure thee hence,
    Or silence ultimate beguile?
Ever our things of consequence
        Awakened but thy smile.

Is it with thee that ocean takes
    A stranger sorrow to its tone?
With thee the star of evening wakes
        More beautiful, more lone?

For wave and hill and sky betray
    A subtle tinge and touch of thee;
Thy shadow lingers in the day,
        Thy voice in winds to be.

Beauty—hast thou discovered her
    By deeper seas no moons control?
What stars have magic now to stir
        Thy swift and wilful soul?

Or may thy heart no more forget
    The grievous world that once was home,
That here, where love awaits thee yet,
        Thou seemest yet to roam?

For most, far-wandering, I guess
    Thy witchery on the haunted mind,
In valleys of thy loneliness,
        Made clean with ocean’s wind.

And most thy presence here seems told,
    A waif of elemental deeps,
When, at its vigils unconsoled,
        Some night of winter weeps.

Poet Nora May French committed suicide at George Sterling’s home on 13 November 1907.
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Sterling, George.  The House of Orchids and Other Poems.  (San Francisco:  A. M. Robertson, 1911).

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