The voices of the whispering woods are still;
No truant brook runs chattering to the stream;
Like heaven’s own likeness, mirrored in a dream,
The sea coils round each jutting rock and hill.
Nay, hark! what faint aërial harpings thrill
The lonely bay; what choral voices seem
To float around and melt like rolling steam
On air as quiet as a windless mill.
No holy chant in hushed cathedral naves
Had ever such unearthly harmony,
As these mysterious chords ineffable
That peal from organ-pipes of fluted caves,
Reverberate in hollow mountain shell,
The music of the everlasting sea.
[This sonnet is founded on a singular experience I had at Wooda Bay in North
Devon. While leaning over the cliff I was startled by hearing sounds as of harps and
violins blending with muffled organ notes, and human voices soaring above the music. The
effect was magical, and must have been due to an echo produced by the wave-hollowed
Blind, Mathilde. “Sea-Music.” The Savoy, vol. 1 January 1896, p. 111. Savoy Digital Edition, edited by Christopher Keep and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2018-2020. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019. https://1890s.ca/savoyv1-blind-sea/