Born: Ap­ril 4, 1862, Bos­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts.

Died: Au­gust 24, 1917, Di­nard, France.

Buried: Mount Au­burn Ce­me­te­ry, Cam­bridge, Mas­sa­chu­setts.



Ernest was the son of As­a­hel Mil­ton Shurt­leff, and hus­band of Hel­en S. Cra­mer.

He gra­du­at­ed from An­do­ver Theo­lo­gic­al Se­mi­na­ry and was or­dained a Con­gre­ga­tion­al min­is­ter.

He served in Bue­na­ven­tu­ra, Ca­li­for­nia; Ply­mouth, Mas­sa­chu­setts; and Min­ne­ap­olis, Min­ne­so­ta.

He spent the last part of his ca­reer in Eur­ope, found­ing the Am­eri­can Church in Frank­furt am Main, Ger­ma­ny, in 1895, and work­ing at the Aca­de­my Vit­ti in Pa­ris, France.



Hymn of the Deep

I bear, O man, upon my swell
The echoes of forgotten ages;
My waves have tolled the solemn knell
Of ancient kings and early sages.

The crags and rocks along my shore,
The ever stern and ponderous boulder,
Are old, ten thousand years and more,
But I, O man, than all am older.

Earth once with darkest gloom was cast;
Lo! when the lurid clouds were riven,
My surging waves were tossing fast
Beneath the arching brow of heaven!

I bore upon my grand, cold breast
The first glad night of Nature’s morning;
And God my host of waters blest
Ere Eden heard the voice of warning.

Through all the lapse of fleeting years,
Through war and through the world’s upheaval,
Through nations’ joys and nations’ tears,
I echo still the voice primeval.

The angry storms o’erhead may beat,
And long and loud may peal the thunder;
Yet—though the stars in heaven retreat,
And hide away in awe and wonder—

Lo! I but laugh and throw my spray,
Till toward the lowering sky it tosses,
And love to watch the lightning play,
As through the darksome night it crosses.

I strive with all the winds that blow,
And often do I roar the loudest;
The raging storms are proud, yet know
That I am mightiest and proudest.

They seek to lift me from my bed,
But I with deepest scorn deride them;
They howl in wrath above my head,
But with my hissing foam I hide them.

The sea-birds dart away in fright,
But my calm heart is brave and fearless;
I glory in the awful sight,
And in the darkness wild and cheerless.

No earthly power can conquer me,
And none from me my strength can sever;
As I was born, so shall I be—
Unaltered and unconquered ever.

O man! some call me cruel Sea,
And look on me with sighs and weeping;
And some bring all their woe to me,
And trust their future to my keeping.

Some life-worn souls seek out my waves
To bury burning shame and trouble;
And no eye knows their lonely graves,
As o’er the spot my waters bubble.

The sailor lad with youthful brow,
And monarch in his perished glory,
The lisping babe, so silent now,
The agèd man whose hair is hoary—

All these within my depths I hold,
Unconscious of my rush and beating,
Mid useless heaps of pearl and gold
That make a sum of no repeating.

O man! I bear upon my swell
The echoes of forgotten ages;
My waves have tolled the solemn knell
Of ancient kings and early sages.

My flood shall beat the march of time,
As slow the measured years are passing;
From pole to pole, from clime to clime,
My wealth shall ever be amassing.

My tides shall hold their ancient reign,
Till God say unto me, O Ocean,
Thy longer life to me were vain!

And hush my voice and calm my motion.

Then break, O Deep, along thy shore,
Obedient to thy King Supernal!
Break on, break on forevermore,
Thou semblance of the Sea Eternal!

Ernest Shurtleff
Poems, 1883