Cordula's Web. NOAA. Soft corals, crinoids and sea pens, offshore Hawaii.
NOAA Photo Library: nur01505. Deep sea corals. Offshore Hawaii. HiRes. Gallery 17

The Depths of the Sea

Edith Nesbit

Habes tota quod mente petisti. Infelix.

In deep vague spaces of the lonely sea
She deemed her soulless life was almost fair,
Yet ever dreamed that in the upper air
Lay happiness, supreme in mystery;

Then saw him, out of reach as you I see,
Worshipped his strength, the brown breast broad and bare,
The arms that bent the oar, and grew aware
Of what life means, and why it is good to be;

And yearned for him with all her body sweet,
Her lithe cold arms, and chill wet bosom's beat,
Vowed him her beauty's unillumined shrine:
So I, seeing you above me, turn and tire,

Sick with an empty ache of long desire
To drag you down, to hold you, make you mine!

* * * * *

Attained at last, the lifelong longing's prize!
Raped from the world of air where warm loves glow,
She bears him through her water-world below;
Yet in those strange, glad, fair, mysterious eyes

The shadow of the after-sorrow lies,
And of the coming hour, when she shall know
What she has lost in having gained him so,
And whether death life's longing satisfies.

She shall find out the meaning of despair,
And know the anguish of a granted prayer,
And how, all ended, all is yet undone.
So I, I long for what, far off, you shine,

Not what you must be ere you could be mine,
That which would crown despair if it were won.

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