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After a hard day’s work, nothing is more refreshing than a quiet walk along the shore of the sea. While the exercise is good for our bodies, the presence of the ocean seems to have a peculiarly tranquillizing influence upon our minds. Every sight and sound inspires a spirit of rest and peacefulness; and the effect is enhanced by the absence of the sights and sounds to which we have been exposed throughout the day. It is a delightful change, after escaping from the noisy bustle of our daily work, to hear the ceaseless music of the waves, and to breathe the fresh sea-breezes instead of the vitiated atmosphere of office or class-room.
During our walk along the margin of the sea we enjoy the view of the broad expanse of waters spread out before our eyes, an unfailing source of delight to any one capable of appreciating the beauties of nature. For the ocean in all its changeful moods never ceases to be beautiful, and is especially beautiful at the hour of sunset.
The spectacle presented by the setting sun, as it sinks beneath the ocean wave, is one of the greatest charms of an evening walk by the seashore.
In India, for the greater part of the year, the clouds, whose fantastic shapes and brilliant hues add so much to the beauty of an English sunset, are wanting. But even in a cloudless sky when “the broad sun is sinking down, in his tranquility” and “the gentleness of heavens on the sea,” the spectacle presented to the eye is full of claim beauty.
For some time after the sun has set, the sky is suffused with delicate tints of colour, until the first stars begin to appear on its darkening surface, and day finally gives place to night. In the beginning and the end of the monsoon we have splendid specimens of cloudy sunset, such as surpass the most vivid description given by English poets, and would, if faithfully depicted on canvas, be condemned as exaggerated representations of nature. At this time of year, while the evening sky is still of an intense blue, the clouds are tinged with gold, and purple, and all the colors of the rainbow, and the sea beneath repeats the brilliant coloring of the sky and the clouds above.
From such a revelation of the beauties of nature the poor man derives as much pleasure as the choicest collection of paintings and sculptures and other works of art affords to the millionaire. Indeed, when we look with reverent awe upon the sea and sky at the hour of sunset, it does not seem strange to us that the great powers of nature were once worshipped as gods; and the tranquillizing effect that the sea, especially in the evening, has upon the spectator, enables us to understand how the ancients found it natural to go to the shore and pour out their sorrows to the sea, when the hearts were overburdened with care and no mortal being seemed capable of giving consolation. Wordsworth, the great English poet, felt and beautifully expressed this in his sonnet beginning.
“The world is too much with us,” in which he mourned the fact that most people had lost the power of appreciating the beauty of nature, by giving themselves up to business and worldly pleasure “late and soon, Getting and spending we lay waste our powers.” He ends with this passionate outburst of desire for the old Greek love and reverence for nature. “Great God! I’d rather be A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn, so might I, standing on this pleasant lea, Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.”
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