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Poems Every Child Should Know by  Mary E. Burt

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"Barnacles" (by Sidney Lanier, 1842-81), is a poem that I teach in connection with my lessons on natural history. We have a good specimen of a barnacle, and the children see them on the shells on the coast. The ethical point is invaluable.

My soul is sailing through the sea,

But the Past is heavy and hindereth me.

The Past hath crusted cumbrous shells

That hold the flesh of cold sea-mells

About my soul.

The huge waves wash, the high waves roll,

Each barnacle clingeth and worketh dole

And hindereth me from sailing!


Old Past, let go, and drop i' the sea

Till fathomless waters cover thee!

For I am living, but thou art dead;

Thou drawest back, I strive ahead

The Day to find.

Thy shells unbind! Night comes behind;

I needs must hurry with the wind

And trim me best for sailing.


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