African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

H. Cordelia Ray, "The Enchanted Shell" (1910)


Fair, fragile Una, golden-haired,
With melancholy, dark gray eyes,
Sits on a rock by laughing waves,
Gazing into the radiant skies;
And holding to her ear a shell,
A rosy shell of wondrous form;
Quite plaintively to her it coos
Marvelous lays of sea and storm.
It whispers of a fairy home
With coral halls and pearly floors,
Where mermaids clad in glist'ning gold
Guard smilingly the jeweled doors.
She listens and her weird gray eyes
Grow weirder in their pensive gaze.
The sea birds toss her tangled curls,
The skiff lights glimmer through the haze.
Oh, strange sea-singer! what has lent
Such fascination to thy spell?
Is some celestial guardian
Prisoned within thee, tiny shell?

The maid sits rapt until the stars
In myriad shining clusters gleam;
"Enchanted Una," she is called
By boatmen gliding down the stream.
The tempest beats the restless seas,
The wind blows loud, fierce from the skies;
Sweet, sylph-like Una clasps the shell,
Peace brooding in her quiet eyes.
The wind blows wilder, darkness comes,
The rock is bare, night birds soar far;
Thick clouds scud o'er the gloomy heav'ns
Unvisited by any star.
Where is quaint Una? On some isle,
Dreaming 'mid music, may she be?
Or does she listen to the shell
In coral halls within the sea?
The boatmen say on stormy nights
They see rare Una with the shell,
Sitting in pensive attitude,
Is it a vision? Who can tell?

Published in H. Cordelia Ray, Poems, 1910
Also published in The Upward Path1920

This page has paths: