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The Marsh Post by :LilySparrow Category :Essays Author :Dallas Lore Sharp Date :September 2011 Read :1980

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The Marsh

And breathe it free, and breathe it free,
By rangy marsh, in lone sea-liberty.

I

It was a late June day whose breaking found me upon the edge of the great salt-marshes which lie behind East Point Light, as the Delaware Bay lies in front of it, and which run in a wide, half-land, half-bay border down the cape.

I followed along the black sandy road which goes to the Light until close to the old Zane's Place,--the last farm-house of the uplands,--when I turned off into the marsh toward the river. The mosquitos rose from the damp grass at every step, swarming up around me in a cloud, and streaming off behind like a comet's tail, which hummed instead of glowed. I was the only male among them. It was a cloud of females, the nymphs of the salt-marsh; and all through that day the singing, stinging, smothering swarm danced about me, rested upon me, covered me whenever I paused, so that my black leggings turned instantly to a mosquito brown, and all my dress seemed dyed alike.

Only I did not pause--not often, nor long. The sun came up blisteringly hot, yet on I walked, and wore my coat, my hands deep down in the pockets and my head in a handkerchief. At noon I was still walking, and kept on walking till I reached the bay shore, when a breeze came up, and drove the singing, stinging fairies back into the grass, and saved me.

I left the road at a point where a low bank started across the marsh like a long protecting arm reaching out around the hay-meadows, dragging them away from the grasping river, and gathering them out of the vast undrained tract of coarse sedges, to hold them to the upland. Passing along the bank until beyond the weeds and scrub of the higher borders, I stood with the sky-bound, bay-bound green beneath my feet. Far across, with sails gleaming white against the sea of sedge, was a schooner, beating slowly up the river. Laying my course by her, I began to beat slowly out into the marsh through the heavy sea of low, matted hay-grass.

There is no fresh-water meadow, no inland plain, no prairie with this rainy, misty, early morning freshness so constant on the marsh; no other reach of green so green, so a-glitter with seas of briny dew, so regularly, unfailingly fed:


Look how the grace of the sea doth go
About and about through the intricate channels that flow
Here and there,
Everywhere,
Till his waters have flooded the uttermost creeks and the low-lying lanes,
And the marsh is meshed with a million veins!


I imagine a Western wheat-field, half-way to head, could look, in the dew of morning, somewhat like a salt-marsh. It certainly would have at times the purple-distance haze, that atmosphere of the sea which hangs across the marsh. The two might resemble each other as two pictures of the same theme, upon the same scale, one framed and hung, the other not. It is the framing, the setting of the marsh that gives it character, variety, tone, and its touch of mystery.

For the marsh reaches back to the higher lands of fences, fields of corn, and ragged forest blurs against the hazy horizon; it reaches down to the river of the reedy flats, coiled like a serpent through the green; it reaches away to the sky where the clouds anchor, where the moon rises, where the stars, like far-off lighthouses, gleam along the edge; and it reaches out to the bay, and on, beyond the white surf-line of meeting, on, beyond the line where the bay's blue and the sky's blue touch, on, far on.

Here meet land and river, sky and sea; here they mingle and make the marsh.

A prairie rolls and billows; the marsh lies still, lies as even as a sleeping sea. Yet what moods! What changes! What constant variety of detail everywhere! In The Marshes of Glynn there was


A league and a league of marsh-grass, waist-high, broad in the blade,
Green, and all of a height, and unflecked with a light or a shade,


but not in these Maurice River marshes. Here, to-day, the sun was blazing, kindling millions of tiny suns in the salt-wet blades; and instead of waist-high grass, there lay around me acres and acres of the fine rich hay-grass, full-grown, but without a blade wider than a knitting-needle or taller than my knee. It covered the marsh like a deep, thick fur, like a wonderland carpet into whose elastic, velvety pile my feet sank and sank, never quite feeling the floor. Here and there were patches of higher sedges, green, but of differing shades, which seemed spread upon the grass carpet like long-napped rugs.

Ahead of me the even green broke suddenly over a shoal of sand into tall, tufted grasses, into rose, mallow, and stunted persimmon bushes, foaming, on nearer view, with spreading dogbane blossoms. Off toward the bay another of these shoals, mole-hill high in the distance, ran across the marsh for half a mile, bearing a single broken file of trees--sentinels they seemed, some of them fallen, others gaunt and wind-beaten, watching against the sea.

These were the lookouts and the resting-places for passing birds. During the day, whenever I turned in their direction, a crow, a hawk, or some smaller bird was seen upon their dead branches.

Naturally the variety of bird life upon the marsh is limited; but there is by no means the scarcity here which is so often noted in the forests and wild prairies of corresponding extent. Indeed, the marsh was birdy--rich in numbers if not in species. Underfoot, in spots, sang the marsh-wrens; in larger patches the sharp-tailed sparrows; and almost as wide-spread and constant as the green was the singing of the seaside sparrows. Overhead the fish-hawks crossed frequently to their castle nest high on the top of a tall white oak along the land edge of the marsh; in the neighborhood of the sentinel trees a pair of crows were busy trying (it seemed to me) to find an oyster, a crab--something big enough to choke, for just one minute, the gobbling, gulping clamor of their infant brood. But the dear devouring monsters could not be choked, though once or twice I thought by their strangling cries that father crow, in sheer desperation, had brought them oysters with the shells on. Their awful gaggings died away at dusk. Besides the crows and fish-hawks, a harrier would now and then come skimming close along the grass. Higher up, the turkey-buzzards circled all day long; and once, setting my blood leaping and the fish-hawks screaming, there sailed over, far away in the blue, a bald-headed eagle, his snowy neck and tail flashing in the sunlight as he careened among the clouds.

In its blended greens the marsh that morning offered one of the most satisfying drinks of color my eyes ever tasted. The areas of different grasses were often acres in extent, so that the tints, shading from the lightest pea-green of the thinner sedges to the blue-green of the rushes, to the deep emerald-green of the hay-grass, merged across their broad bands into perfect harmony.

As fresh and vital as the color was the breath of the marsh. There is no bank of violets stealing and giving half so sweet an odor to my nostrils, outraged by a winter of city smells, as the salty, spray-laden breath of the marsh. It seems fairly to line the lungs with ozone. I know how grass-fed cattle feel at the smell of salt. I have the concentrated thirst of a whole herd when I catch that first whiff of the marshes after a winter, a year it may be, of unsalted inland air. The smell of it stampedes me. I gallop to meet it, and drink, drink, drink deep of it, my blood running redder with every draught.


II

I had waded out into the meadow perhaps two hundred yards, leaving a dark bruised trail in the grass, when I came upon a nest of the long-billed marsh-wren. It was a bulky house, and so overburdened its frail sedge supports that it lay almost upon the ground, with its little round doorway wide open to the sun and rain. They must have been a young couple who built it, and quite inexperienced. I wonder they had not abandoned it; for a crack of light into a wren's nest would certainly addle the eggs. They are such tiny, dusky, tucked-away things, and their cradle is so deep and dark and hidden. There were no fatalities, I am sure, following my efforts to prop the leaning structure, though the wrens were just as sure that it was all a fatality--utterly misjudging my motives. As a rule, I have never been able to help much in such extremities. Either I arrive too late, or else I blunder.

I thought, for a moment, that it was the nest of the long-billed's cousin, the short-billed marsh-wren, that I had found--which would have been a gem indeed, with pearly eggs instead of chocolate ones. Though I was out for the mere joy of being out, I had really come with a hope of discovering this mousy mite of a wren, and of watching her ways. It was like hoping to watch the ways of the "wunk." Several times I have been near these little wrens; but what chance has a pair of human eyes with a skulking four inches of brownish streaks and bars in the middle of a marsh! Such birds are the everlasting despair of the naturalist, the salt of his earth. The belief that a pair of them dwelt somewhere in this green expanse, that I might at any step come upon them, made me often forget the mosquitos.

When I reached the ridge of rose and mallow bushes, two wrens began muttering in the grass with different notes and tones from those of the long-billed. I advanced cautiously. Soon one flashed out and whipped back among the thick stems again, exposing himself just long enough to show me _stellaris_, the little short-billed wren I was hunting.

I tried to stand still for a second glimpse and a clue to the nest; but the mosquitos! Things have come to a bad pass with the bird-hunter, whose only gun is an opera-glass, when he cannot stand stock-still for an hour. His success depends upon his ability to take root. He needs light feet, a divining mind, and many other things, but most of all he needs patience. There are few mortals, however, with mosquito-proof patience--one that would stand the test here. Remembering a meadow in New England where stellaris nested, I concluded to wait till chance took me thither, and passed on.

This ridge of higher ground proved to be a mosquito roost--a thousand here to one in the deeper, denser grass. As I hurried across I noted with great satisfaction that the pink-white blossoms of the spreading dogbane were covered with mosquito carcasses. It lessened my joy somewhat to find, upon examination, that all the victims were males. Either they had drunk poison from the flowers, or else, and more likely, they had been unable to free their long-haired antennae from the sticky honey into which they had dipped their innocent beaks. Several single flowers had trapped three, and from one blossom I picked out five. If we could bring the dogbane to brew a cup which would be fatal to the females, it might be a good plant to raise in our gardens along with the eucalyptus and the castor-oil plants.

Everywhere as I went along, from every stake, every stout weed and topping bunch of grass, trilled the seaside sparrows--a weak, husky, monotonous song, of five or six notes, a little like the chippy's, more tuneful, perhaps, but not so strong. They are dark, dusky birds, of a grayish olive-green hue, with a conspicuous yellow line before the eye, and yellow upon the shoulder.

There seems to be a sparrow of some kind for every variety of land between the poles. Mountain-tops, seaside marshes, inland prairies, swamps, woods, pastures--everywhere, from Indian River to the Yukon, a sparrow nests. Yet one can hardly associate sparrows with marshes, for they seem out of place in houseless, treeless, half-submerged stretches. These are the haunts of the shyer, more secretive birds. Here the ducks, rails, bitterns, coots,--birds that can wade and swim, eat frogs and crabs,--seem naturally at home. The sparrows are perchers, grain-eaters, free-fliers, and singers; and they, of all birds, are the friends and neighbors of man. This is no place for them. The effect of this marsh life upon the flight and song of these two species was very marked. Both showed unmistakable vocal powers which long ago would have been developed under the stimulus of human listeners; and during all my stay (so long have they crept and skulked about through the low marsh paths) I did not see one rise a hundred feet into the air, nor fly straight away for a hundred yards. They would get up just above the grass, and flutter and drop--a puttering, short-winded, apoplectic struggle, very unbecoming and unworthy.

By noon I had completed a circle and recrossed the lighthouse road in the direction of the bay. A thin sheet of lukewarm water lay over all this section. The high spring tides had been reinforced by unusually heavy rains during April and May, giving a great area of pasture and hay land back, for that season, to the sea. Descending a copsy dune from the road, I surprised a brood of young killdeers feeding along the drift at the edge of the wet meadow. They ran away screaming, leaving behind a pair of spotted sandpipers, "till-tops," that had been wading with them in the shallow water. The sandpipers teetered on for a few steps, then rose at my approach, scaled nervously out over the drowned grass, and, circling, alighted near where they had taken wing, continuing instantly with their hunt, and calling _Tweet-tweet, tweet-tweet_, and teetering, always teetering, as they tiptoed along.

If perpetual motion is still a dream of the physicist, he might get an idea by carefully examining the way the body of till-top is balanced on its needle legs. If till-tops have not been tilting forever, and shall not go on tilting forever, it is because something is wrong with the mechanism of the world outside their little spotted bodies. Surely the easiest, least willed motion in all the universe is this sandpiper's teeter, teeter, teeter, as it hurries peering and prying along the shore.

Killdeers and sandpipers are noisy birds; and one would know, after half a day upon the marsh, even if he had never seen these birds before, that they could not have been bred here. For however


candid and simple and nothing-withholding and free


the marsh may seem to one coming suddenly from the wooded uplands, it will not let one enter far without the consciousness that silence and secrecy lie deeper here than in the depths of the forest glooms. The true birds of the marsh, those that feed and nest in the grass, have the spirit of the great marsh-mother. The sandpiper is not her bird. It belongs to the shore, living almost exclusively along sandy, pebbly margins, the margins of any, of almost every water, from Delaware Bay to the tiny bubbling spring in some Minnesota pasture. Neither is the killdeer her bird. The upland claims it, plover though it be. A barren, stony hillside, or even a last year's corn-field left fallow, is a better-loved breast to the killdeer than the soft brooding breast of the marsh. There are no grass-birds so noisy as these two. Both of them lay their eggs in pebble nests; and both depend largely for protection upon the harmony of their colors with the general tone of their surroundings.

I was still within sound of the bleating killdeers when a rather large, greenish-gray bird flapped heavily but noiselessly from a muddy spot in the grass to the top of a stake and faced me. Here was a child of the marsh. Its bolt-upright attitude spoke the watcher in the grass; then as it stretched its neck toward me, bringing its body parallel to the ground, how the shape of the skulker showed! This bird was not built to fly nor to perch, but to tread the low, narrow paths of the marsh jungle, silent, swift, and elusive as a shadow.

It was the clapper-rail, the "marsh-hen." One never finds such a combination of long legs, long toes, long neck and bill, with this long but heavy hen-like body, outside the meadows and marshes. The grass ought to have been alive with the birds: it was breeding-time. But I think the high tides must have delayed them or driven them elsewhere, for I did not find an egg, nor hear at nightfall their colony-cry, so common at dusk and dawn in the marshes just across on the coast about Townsend's Inlet. There at sunset in nesting-time one of the rails will begin to call--a loud, clapping roll; a neighbor takes it up, then another and another, the circle of cries widening and swelling until the whole marsh is a-clatter.

Heading my way with a slow, labored stroke came one of the fish-hawks. She was low down and some distance away, so that I got behind a post before she saw me. The marsh-hen spied her first, and dropped into the grass. On she came, her white breast and belly glistening, and in her talons a big glistening fish. It was a magnificent catch. "Bravo!" I should have shouted--rather I shouldn't; but here she was right over me, and the instinct of the boy, of the savage, had me before I knew, and leaping out, I whirled my cap and yelled to wake the marsh. The startled hawk jerked, keeled, lifted with a violent struggle, and let go her hold. Down fell the writhing, twisting fish at my feet. It was a splendid striped bass, weighing at least four pounds, and still live enough to flop.

I felt mean as I picked up the useless thing and looked far away to the great nest with its hungry young. I was no better than the bald eagle, the lazy robber-baron, who had stolen the dinner of these same young hawks the day before.

Their mother had been fishing up the river and had caught a tremendous eel. An eel can hold out to wriggle a very long time. He has no vitals. Even with talon-tipped claws he is slippery and more than a clawful; so the old hawk took a short cut home across the railroad-track and the corner of the woods where stands the eagle tree.

She could barely clear the tree-tops, and, with the squirming of the eel about her legs, had apparently forgotten that the eagle lived along this road, or else in her struggle to get the prize home she was risking the old dragon's being away. He was not away. I have no doubt that he had been watching her all the time from some high perch, and just as she reached the open of the railroad-track, where the booty would not fall among the trees, he appeared. His first call, mocking, threatening, commanding, shot the poor hawk through with terror. She screamed; she tried to rise and escape; but without a second's parley the great king drove down upon her. She dropped the fish, dived, and dodged the blow, and the robber, with a rushing swoop that was glorious in its sweep, in its speed and ease, caught the eel within a wing's reach of me and the track.

I did not know what to do with my spoil. Somewhat relieved, upon looking around, to find that even the marsh-hen had not been an eye-witness to my knightly deed, I started with the fish and my conscience toward the distant nest, determined to climb into it and leave the catch with the helpless, dinnerless things for whom it was intended.

I am still carrying that fish. How seldom we are able to restore the bare exaction, to say nothing of the fourfold! My tree was harder to climb than Zacchaeus's. Mine was an ancient white oak, with the nest set directly upon its dead top. I had stood within this very nest twelve years before; but even with the help of my conscience I could not get into it now. Not that I had grown older or larger. Twelve years do not count unless they carry one past forty. It was the nest that had grown. Gazing up at it, I readily believed the old farmer in the Zane's house who said it would take a pair of mules to haul it. He thought it larger than one that blew down in the marsh the previous winter, which made three cart-loads.

One thinks of Stirling and of the castles frowning down upon the Rhine as he comes out of the wide, flat marsh beneath this great nest, crowning this loftiest eminence in all the region. But no chateau of the Alps, no beetling crag-lodged castle of the Rhine, can match the fish-hawk's nest for sheer boldness and daring. Only the eagles' nests upon the fierce dizzy pinnacles in the Yosemite surpass the home of the fish-hawk in unawed boldness. The aery of the Yosemite eagle is the most sublimely defiant of things built by bird, or beast, or man.

A fish-hawk will make its nest upon the ground, or a hummock, a stump, a buoy, a chimney--upon anything near the water that offers an adequate platform; but its choice is the dead top of some lofty tree where the pathway for its wide wings is open and the vision range is free for miles around.

How dare the bird rear such a pile upon so slight and towering a support! How dare she defy the winds, which, loosened far out on the bay, come driving across the cowering, unresisting marsh! She is too bold sometimes. I have known more than one nest to fall in a wild May gale. Many a nest, built higher and wider year after year, while all the time its dead support has been rotting and weakening, gets heavy with the wet of winter, and some night, under the weight of an ice-storm, comes crashing to the earth.

Yet twelve years had gone since I scaled the walls and stood within this nest; and with patience and hardihood enough I could have done it again this time, no doubt. I remember one nest along Maurice River, perched so high above the gums of the swamp as to be visible from my home across a mile of trees, that has stood a landmark for the oystermen this score of years.

The sensations of my climb into this fish-hawk's nest of the marsh are vivid even now. Going up was comparatively easy. When I reached the forks holding the nest, I found I was under a bulk of sticks and corn-stalks which was about the size of an ordinary haycock or an unusually large wash-tub. By pulling out, pushing aside, and breaking off the sticks, I worked a precarious way through the four feet or more of debris and scrambled over the edge. There were two eggs. Taking them in my hands, so as not to crush them, I rose carefully to my feet.

Upright in a hawk's nest! Sixty feet in the air, on the top of a gaunt old white oak, high above the highest leaf, with the screaming hawks about my head, with marsh and river and bay lying far around! It was a moment of exultation; and the thrill of it has been transmitted through the years. My body has been drawn to higher places since; but my soul has never quite touched that altitude again, for I was a boy then.

Nor has it ever shot swifter, deeper into the abyss of mortal terror than followed with my turning to descend. I looked down into empty air. Feet foremost I backed over the rim, clutching the loose sticks and feeling for a foothold. They snapped with the least pressure; slipped and fell if I pushed them, or stuck out into my clothing. Suddenly the sticks in my hands pulled out, my feet broke through under me, and for an instant I hung at the side of the nest in the air, impaled on a stub that caught my blouse as I slipped.

There is a special Providence busy with the boy.

This huge nest of the fish-hawks was more than a nest; it was a castle in very truth, in the sheltering crevices of whose uneven walls a small community of purple grackles lived. Wedged in among the protruding sticks was nest above nest, plastering the great pile over, making it almost grassy with their loose flying ends. I remember that I counted more than twenty of these crow-blacks' nests the time I climbed the tree, and that I destroyed several in breaking my way up the face of the structure.

Do the blackbirds nest here for the protection afforded by the presence of the hawks? Do they come for the crumbs which fall from these great people's table? Or is it the excellent opportunity for social life offered by this convenient apartment-house that attracts?

The purple grackles are a garrulous, gossipy set, as every one knows. They are able-bodied, not particularly fond of fish, and inclined to seek the neighborhood of man, rather than to come out here away from him. They make very good American rooks. So I am led to think it is their love of "neighboring" that brings them about the hawk's nest. If this surmise is correct, then the presence of two families of English sparrows among them might account for there being only eight nests now, where a decade ago there were twenty.

I was amused--no longer amazed--at finding the sparrows here. The seed of these birds shall possess the earth. Is there even now a spot into which the bumptious, mannerless, ubiquitous little pleb has not pushed himself? If you look for him in the rain-pipes of the Fifth Avenue mansions, he is there; if you search for him in the middle of the wide, silent salt-marsh, he is there; if you take--but it is vain to take the wings of the morning, or of anything else, in the hope of flying to a spot where the stumpy little wings of the English sparrow have not already carried him.

There is something really admirable in the unqualified sense of ownership, the absolute want of diffidence, the abiding self-possession and coolness of these birds. One cannot measure it in the city streets, where everybody jostles and stares. It can be appreciated only in the marsh: here in the silence, the secrecy, the withdrawing, where even the formidable-looking fiddler-crabs shy and sidle into their holes as you pass; here, where the sparrows may perch upon the rim of a great hawk's nest, twist their necks, ogle you out of countenance, and demand what business brought you to the marsh.

I hunted round for a stone when one of them buttonholed me. He wasn't insolent, but he was impertinent. The two hawks and the blackbirds flew off as I came up; but the sparrows stayed. They were the only ones in possession as I moved away; and they will be the only ones in possession when I return. If that is next summer, then I shall find a colony of twenty sparrow families around the hawk's nest. The purple grackles will be gone. And the fish-hawks? Only the question of another year or so when they, too, shall be dispossessed and gone. But where will they go to escape the sparrows?


III

From a mile away I turned to look back at the "cripple" where towered the tall white oak of the hawks. Both birds were wheeling about the castle nest, their noble flight full of the freedom of the marsh, their piercing cries voicing its wildness. And how free, how wild, how untouched by human hands the wide plain seemed! Sea-like it lay about me, circled southward from east to west with the rim of the sky.

I moved on toward the bay. The sun had dropped to the edge of the marsh, its level-lined shafts splintering into golden fire against the curtained windows of the lighthouse. It would soon be sunset. For some time there had been a quiet gurgling and lisping down in the grass, but it had meant nothing, until, of a sudden, I heard the rush of a wave along the beach: the tide was coming in. And with it came a breeze, a moving, briny, bay-cooled breeze that stirred the grass with a whisper of night.

Once more I had worked round to the road. It ran on ahead of me, up a bushy dune, and forked, one branch leading off to the lighthouse, the other straight out to the beach, out against the white of the breaking waves.

The evening purple was deepening on the bay when I mounted the dune. Bands of pink and crimson clouded the west, a thin cold wash of blue veiled the east; and overhead, bayward, landward, everywhere, the misting and the shadowing of the twilight.

Between me and the white wave-bars at the end of the road gleamed a patch of silvery water--the returning tide. As I watched, a silvery streamlet broke away and came running down the wheel track. Another streamlet, lagging a little, ran shining down the other track, stopped, rose, and creeping slowly to the middle of the road, spread into a second gleaming patch. They grew, met--and the road for a hundred feet was covered with the bay.

As the crimson paled into smoky pearl, the blue changed green and gold, and big at the edge of the marsh showed the rim of the moon.

Weird hour! Sunset, moonrise, flood-tide, and twilight together weaving the spell of the night over the wide waking marsh. Mysterious, sinister almost, seemed the swift, stealthy creeping of the tide. It was surrounding and crawling in upon me. Already it stood ankle-deep in the road, and was reaching toward my knees, a warm thing, quick and moving. It slipped among the grasses and into the holes of the crabs with a smothered bubbling; it disturbed the seaside sparrows sleeping down in the sedge and kept them springing up to find new beds. How high would it rise? Behind me on the road it had crawled to the foot of the dune. Would it let me through to the mainland if I waited for the flood?

It would be high tide at nine o'clock. Finding a mound of sand on the shore that the water could hardly cover, I sat down to watch the tide-miracle; for here, surely, I should see the wonder worked, so wide was the open, so full, so frank the moon.

In the yellow light I could make out the line of sentinel trees across the marsh, and off on the bay a ship, looming dim in the distance, coming on with wind and tide. There were no sounds except the long regular wash of the waves, the stir of the breeze in the chafing sedges, and the creepy stepping of the water weaving everywhere through the hidden paths of the grass. Presently a night-hawk began to flit about me, then another and another, skimming just above the marsh as silent as the shadows. What was that? Something moved across the moon. In a moment, bat-like and huge against the great yellow disk, appeared a marsh-owl. He was coming to look at me. What was I that dared remain abroad in the marsh after the rising of the moon? that dared invade this eery realm, this night-spread, tide-crept, half-sealand where he was king? How like a goblin he seemed! I thought of Grendel, and listened for the splash of the fen-monster's steps along the edge of the bay. But only the owl came. Down, down, down he bobbed, till I could almost feel the fanning of his wings. How silent! His long legs hung limp, his body dangled between those soft wide wings within reach of my face. Yet I heard no sound. Mysterious creature! I was glad when he ceased his ghostly dance about me and made off.

It was nine o'clock. The waves had ceased to wash against the sand, for the beach was gone; the breeze had died away; the stir of the water in the grass was still. Only a ripple broke now and then against my little island. The bay and the marsh were one.

How still the plains of the waters be!
The tide is in his ecstasy.
The tide is at his highest height:
And it is night.


(The end)
Dallas Lore Sharp's essay: The Marsh

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