OUT of the rolling ocean, the crowd, came a drop gently to me,
Whispering, I love you, before long I die,
I have travel’d a long way, merely to look on you, to touch you,
For I could not die till I once look’d on you,
For I fear’d I might afterward lose you.
(Now we have met, we have look’d, we are safe;
Return in peace to the ocean, my love;
I too am part of that ocean, my love—we are not so much separated;
Behold the great rondure—the cohesion of all, how perfect!
But as for me, for you, the irresistible sea is to separate us,
As for an hour, carrying us diverse—yet cannot carry us diverse for ever;
Be not impatient—a little space—Know you, I salute the air, the ocean and the
Every day, at sundown, for your dear sake, my love.)
I too had this read at my mother’s memorial service in 1982. Her love of the sea and her understanding of the connection among us all is so beautifully captured in Whitman’s verse. He simultaneously grieves loss and celebrates humanity.
It harkens to the Hebrew tradition of tossing your torn shirt, worn through 7 days of mourning, into the ocean upon the passing of a loved one.
My niece read this at the memorial service for her
boyfriend who was lost in the Pacific ocean while
swimming. It was a very powerful moment for all of
us who were present. She opened this book to this
poem and knew she had to read it at the service.