When Sam goes back in memory,
It is to where the sea
Breaks on the shingle, emerald green,
In white foam, endlessly;
He says - with small brown eyes on mine -
"I used to keep awake,
And lean from my window in the moon,
Watching those billows break.
And half a million tiny hands,
And eyes, like sparks of frost,
Would dance and come tumbling into the moon,
On every breaker tossed.
And all across from star to star,
I've seen the watery sea,
With not a single ship in sight,
Just ocean there and me;
And heard my father snore. And once,
As sure as I'm alive,
Out of those wallowing, moon-flecked waves
I saw a mermaid dive;
Head and shoulders above the wave,
Plain as I now see you,
Combing back her hair, now back, now front,
Her two eyes peeping through;
Calling me, 'Sam!' - quietlike - 'Sam-'
But me...I never went,
Making believe I kind of thought
'Twas someone else she meant...
Wonderful lovely there she sat,
Singing the night away,
All in the solitudinous sea
Of that there lonely bay.
"P'raps," he'd smooth his hairless mouth,
"P'raps, if 'twere now, my son,
P'raps, if I heard a voice say, 'Sam!'
Morning would find me gone."