North from Jacksonville, the marshes between the road and the sea, were the inspiration for a holy poem of which we should be familiar. It was written by Sidney Lanier after the Civil War. As an officer for the South he took on tuberculosis that early ended his life.
In an effort at accepting an early death, Sidney wandered down the edge of the marshes in Glynn County. In the following lines we see how he came to see the marshes as a copy of Jesus who accepted his fate.
Ye marshes, how candid and simple and nothing withholding and free,
Ye publlsh yourselves to the sky, and offer yourself to the sea.
Tolerant plains that suffer the sea and the rains and the sun.
He next sees the marshes as a symbol for God, “In whom we live, and move and have our being.”
“As the marsh hen secretly builds on the watery sod,
Behold I will build me a nest on the greatness of God.”
“By so many roots as the marsh grass sends in the sod,
I will heartedly lay me a hold on the greatness of God.”
In the closing lines of his poem Sidney compared the way the tides fill the marshes to the way God sends soothing sleep into the hearts of men.
“Who will reveal to our waking ken the forms that swim
And the shapes under the waters of sleep?
I would I could know what swimmeth below when the tide comes in,
On the length and the breadth of the marvelous marshes of Glynn.”
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