On the Shore, from "Picture Poesies"

After John William North British
Engraver Dalziel Brothers British
Publisher George Routledge & Sons, London British

Not on view

North's image first appeared in "Wayside Posies:Original Poems of the Country Life," a book edited by Robert Williams Buchanan, illustrated by G. J. Pinwell, J. W. North, and Frederick Walker, engraved by the Brothers Dalziel, and published by Routledge as a Fine Art gift book. In 1874, the publisher reissued the print in "Picture Poesies." The related poem, whose author is not identified, describes a man who waits to see if returning fishermen have found his beloved, whom he believes drowned. While the print shows a fisherman offering a basket of fish to his family, it does not directly address the tragic theme of the verse, but presents us with an idyllic fishing village and seascape.

On the Shore

Wherefore so cold, O day,
That gleamest far away
O'er the dim line where mingle heaven and ocean,
While the fishing-boats lie nestled in the grey,
And the small wave gleams in its shoreward motion?
Wherefore so cold, so cold?
O say, dost thou behold
A face o'er which the rock-weed droopeth sobbing,
A face just stirr'd in a sea-cave old
By the green water's throbbing?

Wherefore, O fisherman,
So full of care and wan,
This weary, weary morning shoreward flying.
While, stooping downward darkly, dost thou scan
That which below thee in thy boat is lying?
Wherefore so full of care?
What dost thou shoreward bear,
Caught in thy net's moist meshes, as a token?
Ah, can it be the ring of golden hair
Whereby my heart is broken?

Wherefore so still, O sea,
That washest wearilie
Under the lamp lit in the fisher's dwelling,
Holding the secret of thy deeps from me,
Whose heart would break so sharply at the telling?
Wherefore so still, so still?
Say, in they sea-cave chill,
Floats she forlorn with foam-bells round her breaking,
While the wet fisher lands and climbs the hill
To hungry babes awaking?

On the Shore, from "Picture Poesies", After John William North (British, London 1842–1924 Stamborough, Somerset), Wood engraving

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