O! Treacherous Sea: A Memory of Sorrento by Henry O'Donnell

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How oft, voluptuous, cruel sea,
  When weary of the mime
That men call life, I turned to thee
   In sunshine and in rime;

To buy surcrease of grief, and win
   The peace thy whispers gave,
And hear, again, a lost voice in
   The lyric of a wave.

No lover ever bent beside --
  With passon-supple knee --
His idol's couch, at eventide,
   In such wld ecstasy

As when, to catch -- though oft 'twas cold --
   Thy opaescent eye,
I lay upon the fringe of gold
   On thy drapery,

And watched thy palpitating breast,
   Star gemmed, caress the sky
While, as by earth's sore sin distressed,
   Thy lips would breath a sigh

That seemed a vesper sacrifice
   Unto the highest Heaven,
That, like a tender plea, would rise
   That Earth might be forgiven.

At morn thou wert in merrier mood,
   When night from dawn would fly,
And poured into mine ear a flood
   Of rippling melody.

'Mid all the fakse and fleeting ones
   That brought me only rue,
And mocked at me, in dulcet tones,
   I swore that thou were true.

But, now, I feel as lover feels
   Who knows, with bitter smart,
His idol's snowy breast conceals
   A black and murd'rous heart.

For all thy love but veiled thy greed,
   Thy heat with malice burned,
And I am left bereft, indeed,
   Since thou hast traitor turned

And folded to thy poisoned breast
   Hearts that were blent with mine;
Ah! how I mourn I e'er caressed
   So foul a heart as thine.

They heard thee sing as Syren sings,
   And say thy Syren face,
But, lured by thy soft whisperings,
   Found death in thy embrace.

'Twere naught, to one full oft betrayed,
   Thou shouldst be false to me:
For love's delight is but hand-maid
   To love's inconstancy.

But, greedy, envious, murd'rous flood,
   What of those lives you stole?
Didst thou, then, crave of warm, young blood
   So hideous a dole

That thou shouldst woo, with witching wiles,
   And all a wanton's charms,
Those trustful ones, beguiled with smiles,
   To crush them in thy arms?

Well may thy restless, throbbing surge
   Bear witness to thy crime.
Rest nevermore! but let their dirge
   With every throb keep time.

I hate the opalescent gleam
   Of thy once-melting eye;
Thy sigh is now become a scream,
   Thy melody a lie.

Forget thy amorous songs of yore,
   Sing ne'er again to me,
But moan, alone, for evermore
   For thy treachery.

First published in Melbourne Punch, 25 January 1906

Author reference site: Austlit.

See also.

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