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Union, Maine  04862

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Shell

by James Stephens, read by Arnold Perrin

And then I pressed the shell

Close to my ear

And listened well,

And straightway like a bell

Came low and clear

The slow, sad murmur of the distant seas,

Whipped by an icy breeze

Upon a shore

Wind-swept and desolate.

It was a sunless strand that never bore

The footprint of a man,

Nor felt the weight

Since time began

Of any human quality or stir

Save what the dreary winds and waves incur.

And in the hush of waters was the sound

Of pebbles rolling round,

For ever rolling with a hollow sound.

And bubbling sea-weeds as the waters go

Swish to and fro

Their long, cold tentacles of slimy grey.

There was no day,

Nor ever came a night

Setting the stars alight

To wonder at the moon:

Was twilight only and the frightened croon,

Smitten to whimpers, of the dreary wind

And waves that journeyed blind-

And then I loosed my ear ... O, it was sweet

To hear a cart go jolting down the street