by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Searching my heart for its true sorrow,
   This is the thing I find to be:
That I am weary of words and people,
   Sick of the city, wanting the sea;

Wanting the sticky, salty sweetness
   Of the strong wind and shattered spray;
Wanting the loud sound and the soft sound
   Of the big surf that breaks all day.

Always before about my dooryard,
   Marking the reach of the winter sea,
Rooted in sand and dragging drift-wood,
   Straggled the purple wild sweet-pea;

Always I climbed the wave at morning,
   Shook the sand from my shoes at night,
That now am caught beneath great buildings,
   Stricken with noise, confused with light.

If I could hear the green piles groaning
   Under the windy wooden piers,
See once again the bobbing barrels,
   And the black sticks that fence the weirs,

If I could see the weedy mussels
   Crusting the wrecked and rotting hulls,
Hear once again the hungry crying
   Overhead, of the wheeling gulls,

Feel once again the shanty straining
   Under the turning of the tide,
Fear once again the rising freshet,
   Dread the bell in the fog outside,—

I should be happy,—that was happy
   All day long on the coast of Maine!
I have a need to hold and handle
   Shells and anchors and ships again!

I should be happy, that am happy
   Never at all since I came here.
I am too long away from water.
   I have a need of water near.

Monadnock Valley Press > Millay