The Dunes

Back from the wave-carved ramparts of the beach
Skyward the grey, enormous sand-dunes reach
Stippled with far-seen trails of wandering feet
That walk up distant summits, cross, and meet
And merge into the road where lies the town
On the small ships of which the dunes look down:
A jumble of sails and cluttered wharves and ropes
Shelved in a vista of gigantic slopes
Shining and sparkling in the burning sun.…

The sand fleas, helter-skelter, skurry and run
And tumble pick-a-back; the blown grass swerves
Circling its base with graceful sweeps and curves
And arcs traced, delicate, which winds confer
Like an invisible geometer.

The ancient ocean, refluent on the shore,
Hurls, and draws back with a re-gathering roar
Its kelp and smooth-worn pebbles…
to and fro,
Shuttling their legs, the little shore birds go
Following the shining foot of every wave.
Their hunger lifts their hearts and makes them brave.

The close, warm, salty odor of the sea,
Sweet as a woman's breasts, weighs heavily
On all the air…
and now the sun goes down,
Laying its brightness on the seaward town
A farewell space, as parting lovers meet…

White-purple shadows steal on crowding feet
Over the brown kelp, up the slopes that lean
Skyward…they touch the firs to darker green,
Into black-green: space grows to infinite height
And leads up into avenues of night
From the abrupt foot of the dunes, that seem
Causeways that climb to parapets of dream.…

A slipping edge of disc, a tiny span,
Gleams yet, hinting the sun Leviathan;
And where the west burns like a brazier yet
Dance small, grey fisher boats in silhouette.

The first great planet of the night hangs low,

So bright it makes our shadows as we go:
Each gulfing hollow is a haunted dell;

Now the moon, risen, casts a silver spell
In a long ocean-path…has a god passed
Leaving a visible way?…
the dunes are vast
With moonlight; every ridge, by magic, grown
A mountain under stars…
the soul's alone,
Whipped from the body to a stellar birth
Upon another landscape (not the earth)
Banked as with solid moonlight…
that's our moon
That was our earth…we walk a plenilune…
The sea is rolling silver tossed afar…
We stand upon the body of a star.
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