26 MARCH 1954, Page 13

Three Sea Pieces

The Shell

This is the shell. Time out of mind, That shy, reserved old man Treasured it on his shelf; all spined And horned, a harsh white saurian. But through its cave a low Chant seemed to float: a curious find, Crabbed as a bird's claw, calm as snow.

I was not there, I did not hear The clang of the one bell; But if I lift my hand, my ear Breathes a smooth music from the shell He gave me. Breathes the small Chord it intones all day; queer, Aloof, almost ironical.

At that great age, when the heart's beat May halt as easily As a light footstep in a street And sense no pain, I think that he Had no grief, no alarm;