Hart Crane



Above the fresh ruffles of the surf
Bright striped urchins flay each other with sand.   
They have contrived a conquest for shell shucks,   
And their fingers crumble fragments of baked weed   
Gaily digging and scattering.

And in answer to their treble interjections   
The sun beats lightning on the waves,   
The waves fold thunder on the sand;
And could they hear me I would tell them:

O brilliant kids, frisk with your dog,   
Fondle your shells and sticks, bleached
By time and the elements; but there is a line   
You must not cross nor ever trust beyond it   
Spry cordage of your bodies to caresses   
Too lichen-faithful from too wide a breast.   
The bottom of the sea is cruel.