Like countless people around the world, I am fascinated no end by seashells. Just looking at them is a source of great pleasure. It can even be therapeutic. Someday, I might write a poem on the subject. In the meantime, let me share the following three verses and a haunting song about seashells.
I have seen
A curious child, who dwelt upon a tract
Of inland ground, applying to his ear
The convolutions of a smooth-lipped shell;
To which, in silence hushed, his very soul
Listened intensely; and his countenance soon
Brightened with joy; for from within were heard
Murmurings, whereby the monitor expressed
Mysterious union with its native sea.
~ William Wordsworth (1770 –1850) , from ‘The Excursion’
But I have sinuous shells of pearly hue
Within, and they that lustre have imbibed
In the sun’s palace porch, where when unyoked
His chariot-wheel stands midway in the wave:
Shake one and it awakens, then apply
Its polished lips to your attentive ear,
And it remembers its august abodes,
And murmurs as the ocean murmurs there.
~ Walter Savage Landor (1775–1864), from ‘Gebir’
The hollow sea-shell, which for years hath stood
On dusty shelves, when held against the ear
Proclaims its stormy parents; and we hear
The faint far murmur of the breaking flood.
We hear the sea. The sea? It is the blood 5
In our own veins, impetuous and near,
And pulses keeping pace with hope and fear
And with our feeling’s every shifting mood.
Lo, in my heart I hear, as in a shell,
The murmur of a world beyond the grave, 10
Distinct, distinct, though faint and far it be.
Thou fool; this echo is a cheat as well,—
The hum of earthly instincts; and we crave
A world unreal as the shell-heard sea.
~ Eugene Lee-Hamilton (1845–1907) , ‘Sea-Shell Murmurs’