25 Enjoyable Poems About Seashells

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Here are my favorite poems about seashells categorized:

  • Short poems about seashells
  • Famous poems about seashells
  • Poems about seashells and love
  • Poems about seashells and death

So if you want the best poems about seashells, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s dive in!

25 Best Poems About Seashells (Handpicked)

Enjoyable Poems About Seashells

Discover the whimsical allure of concise and delightful short poems that whisper tales of oceanic wonders and the secrets held within seashells’ delicate embrace.

Venture even deeper as you explore the profound connection between seashells and the cycle of life, unraveling the hauntingly beautiful verses that explore the intersection of seashells and death.

This captivating collection invites you to surrender to the whispers of the sea and the poetic magic of seashells, where every line holds the promise of an extraordinary journey.

Let’s get started!

My #1 Favorite Poem About Seashells

Beautiful fashionable mermaid with red hair holding shell sitting on rock near sea

“Appreciation” by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

To the sea-shell’s spiral round
’T is your heart that brings the sound:
The soft sea-murmurs that you hear
Within, are captured from your ear.
You do poets and their song
A grievous wrong,
If your own soul does not bring
To their high imagining
As much beauty as they sing.

Short Poems About Seashells

Fashion shot of woman in doll style with seashell.

“Seashells” by Alexander Posey

I picked up shells with ruby lips
That spoke in whispers of the sea,
Upon a time, and watched the ships,
On white wings, sail away to sea.

The ships I saw go out that day
Live misty—dim in memory;
But still I hear, from far away,
The blue waves breaking ceaselessly.

From “Gebir” by Walter Savage Landor

I am not daunted, no; I will engage.
But first, said she, what wager will you lay?
A sheep, I answered, add whate’er you will.
I cannot, she replied, make that return:
Our hided vessels in their pitchy round
Seldom, unless from rapine, hold a sheep.
But I have sinuous shells of pearly hue
Within, and they that lustre have imbibed
In the Sun’s palace-porch, where when unyoked
His chariot-wheel stands midway in the wave:
Shake one and it awakens, then apply
Its polisht lips to your attentive ear
And it remembers its august abodes,
And murmurs as the ocean murmurs there.

“The Sea-Shell” by Allen Upward

To the passionate lover, whose sighs come back to him on every breeze, all the world is like a murmuring sea-shell.

Dancing Asian Mermaid Posing With Seashell At Sea Shore on Rocks

“The Sea-Shell” by Virna Sheard

Oh, fairy palace of pink and pearl
Frescoed with filigree silver-white,
Down in the silence beneath the sea
God by Himself must have fashioned thee
Just for His own delight!

But no! – For a dumb and shapeless thing
Stirring in darkness its little hour,
Thy walls were built with infinite care,
Thou sea-scented home, so fine and fair,
Perfect – and like a flower!

“Sonnet XLIV” by Charlotte Smith

Press’d by the Moon, mute arbitress of tides,
While the loud equinox its pow’r combines,
The sea no more its swelling surge confines,
But o’er the shrinking land sublimely rides.
The wild blasts, rising from the Western cave,
Drives the huge billows from their heaving bed;
Tears from their grassy tombs the village dead,
And breaks the silent sabbath of the grave!
With shells and seaweed mingled, on the shore,
Lo! their bones whiten in the frequent wave;
But vain to them the winds and waters rave;
They hear the warring elements no more:
While I am doom’d—by life’s long storm opprest,
To gaze with envy, on their gloomy rest.

Famous Poems About Seashells

Beautiful fashionable mermaid with red hair holding shell sitting on rock near sea

“Sea Shell” by Amy Lowell

Sea Shell, Sea Shell,
Sing me a song, O Please!
A song of ships, and sailor men,
And parrots, and tropical trees,

Of islands lost in the Spanish Main
Which no man ever may find again,
Of fishes and corals under the waves,
And seahorses stabled in great green caves.

Sea Shell, Sea Shell,
Sing of the things you know so well.

From “The Excursion”: Despondency Corrected by William Wordsworth

I have seen
A curious child, who dwelt upon a tract
Of inland ground, applying to his ear
The convolutions of a smooth-lipped shell;
To which, in silence hushed, his very soul
Listened intensely; and his countenance soon
Brightened with joy; for from within were heard
Murmurings, whereby the monitor expressed
Mysterious union with its native sea.
Even such a shell the universe itself
Is to the ear of Faith; and there are times,
I doubt not, when to you it doth impart
Authentic tidings of invisible things;
Of ebb and flow, and ever-during power;
And central peace, subsisting at the heart
Of endless agitation. Here you stand,
Adore, and worship, when you know it not;
Pious beyond the intention of your thought;
Devout above the meaning of your will.
—Yes, you have felt, and may not cease to feel.
The estate of man would be indeed forlorn
If false conclusions of the reasoning power
Made the eye blind, and closed the passages
Through which the ear converses with the heart.
Has not the soul, the being of your life,
Received a shock of awful consciousness,
In some calm season, when these lofty rocks
At night’s approach bring down the unclouded sky,
To rest upon their circumambient walls;
A temple framing of dimensions vast,
And yet not too enormous for the sound
Of human anthems,—choral song, or burst
Sublime of instrumental harmony,
To glorify the Eternal! What if these
Did never break the stillness that prevails
Here,—if the solemn nightingale be mute,
And the soft woodlark here did never chant
Her vespers,—Nature fails not to provide
Impulse and utterance. The whispering air
Sends inspiration from the shadowy heights,
And blind recesses of the caverned rocks;
The little rills, and waters numberless,
Inaudible by daylight, blend their notes
With the loud streams: and often, at the hour
When issue forth the first pale stars, is heard,
Within the circuit of this fabric huge,
One voice—the solitary raven, flying
Athwart the concave of the dark blue dome,
Unseen, perchance above all power of sight—
An iron knell! with echoes from afar
Faint—and still fainter—as the cry, with which
The wanderer accompanies her flight
Through the calm region, fades upon the ear,
Diminishing by distance till it seemed
To expire; yet from the abyss is caught again,
And yet again recovered!

“Twilights, V” by Conrad Aiken

Now the great wheel of darkness and low clouds
Whirs and whirls in the heavens with dipping rim;
Against the ice-white wall of light in the west
Skeleton trees bow down in a stream of air.
Leaves, black leaves and smoke, are blown on the wind;
Mount upward past my window; swoop again;
In a sharp silence, loudly, loudly falls
The first cold drop, striking a shriveled leaf . . .
Doom and dusk for the earth! Upward I reach
To draw chill curtains and shut out the dark,
Pausing an instant, with uplifted hand,
To watch, between black ruined portals of cloud,
One star,—the tottering portals fall and crush it.
Here are a thousand books! here is the wisdom
Alembicked out of dust, or out of nothing;
Choose now the weightiest word, most golden page,
Most somberly musicked line; hold up these lanterns,—
These paltry lanterns, wisdoms, philosophies,—
Above your eyes, against this wall of darkness;
And you’ll see—what? One hanging strand of cobweb,
A window-sill a half-inch deep in dust . . .
Speak out, old wise-men! Now, if ever, we need you.
Cry loudly, lift shrill voices like magicians
Against this baleful dusk, this wail of rain . . .
But you are nothing! Your pages turn to water
Under my fingers: cold, cold and gleaming,
Arrowy in the darkness, rippling, dripping—
All things are rain . . . Myself, this lighted room,
What are we but a murmurous pool of rain? . . .
The slow arpeggios of it, liquid, sibilant,
Thrill and thrill in the dark. World-deep I lie
Under a sky of rain. Thus lies the sea-shell
Under the rustling twilight of the sea;
No gods remember it, no understanding
Cleaves the long darkness with a sword of light.

Portrait of Artistic caucasian Blond Woman With Strasses on Face

“On Receiving A Curious Shell” by John Keats

Hast thou from the caves of Golconda, a gem
Pure as the ice-drop that froze on the mountain?
Bright as the humming-bird’s green diadem,
When it flutters in sun-beams that shine through a fountain?

Hast thou a goblet for dark sparkling wine?
That goblet right heavy, and massy, and gold?
And splendidly mark’d with the story divine
Of Armida the fair, and Rinaldo the bold?

Hast thou a steed with a mane richly flowing?
Hast thou a sword that thine enemy’s smart is?
Hast thou a trumpet rich melodies blowing?
And wear’st thou the shield of the fam’d Britomartis?

What is it that hangs from thy shoulder, so brave,
Embroidered with many a spring peering flower?
Is it a scarf that thy fair lady gave?
And hastest thou now to that fair lady’s bower?

Ah! courteous Sir Knight, with large joy thou art crown’d;
Full many the glories that brighten thy youth!
I will tell thee my blisses, which richly abound
In magical powers to bless, and to sooth.

On this scroll thou seest written in characters fair
A sun-beamy tale of a wreath, and a chain;
And, warrior, it nurtures the property rare
Of charming my mind from the trammels of pain.

This canopy mark: ’tis the work of a fay;
Beneath its rich shade did King Oberon languish,
When lovely Titania was far, far away,
And cruelly left him to sorrow, and anguish.

There, oft would he bring from his soft sighing lute
Wild strains to which, spell-bound, the nightingales listened;
The wondering spirits of heaven were mute,
And tears ‘mong the dewdrops of morning oft glistened.

In this little dome, all those melodies strange,
Soft, plaintive, and melting, for ever will sigh;
Nor e’er will the notes from their tenderness change;
Nor e’er will the music of Oberon die.

So, when I am in a voluptuous vein,
I pillow my head on the sweets of the rose,
And list to the tale of the wreath, and the chain,
Till its echoes depart; then I sink to repose.

Adieu, valiant Eric! with joy thou art crown’d;
Full many the glories that brighten thy youth,
I too have my blisses, which richly abound
In magical powers, to bless and to sooth.

“Quatrains” by Frank Dempster Sherman


Hark at the lips of this pink whorl of shell
And you shall hear the ocean’s surge and roar:
So in the quatrain’s measure, written well,
A thousand lines shall all be sung in four!


Seraglio of the Sultan Bee!
I listen at the waxen door,
And hear the zithern’s melody
And sound of dancing on the floor.


Within this silent palace of the Night,
See how the moon, like some huge, phantom moth,
Creeps slowly up across the azure cloth
That hangs between the darkness and the light.

“A Shell.” by Walter R. Cassels

From what rock-hollow’d cavern deep in ocean,
Where jagged columns break the billow’s beat,
Whirl’d upward by some wild mid-world commotion,
Has this rose-tinted shell steer’d to my feet?

Perchance the wave that bore it has rejoiced
Above Man’s founder’d hopes, and shatter’d pride,
Whilst fierce Euroclydon swept, trumpet-voiced,
Through the frail spars, and hurl’d them in the tide,
And the lost seamen floated at its side!

Ah! thus too oft do Woe and Beauty meet,
Swept onward by the self-same tide of fate,
The bitter following swift upon the sweet,
Close, close together, yet how separate!

Frail waif from the sublime storm-shaken sea,
Thou seem’st the childhood toy of some old king,
Who ‘mid the shock of nations lights on thee,
And instant backward do his thoughts take wing
To the unclouded days of infancy;
Then, sighing, thus away the foolish joy doth fling.

Forth from thine inner chambers come there out
Low murmurs of sweet mystic melodies,
Old Neptune’s couch winding lone caves about,
In tones that faintly through the waves arise,
And steal to mortal ears in softest sighs.

The poet dreams of olden ages flowing
Through the time-ocean to the listening soul,
Ages when from each fountain clear and glowing,
Unto the spirit Naiad voices stole.

And still, from earth and sea, there ever pealeth
A voice far softer than leal lover’s lay,
Bearing the heart, o’er which its true sense stealeth,
Far to diviner dreams of joy away,
And to the wisdom of a riper day.

cute sea maiden sitting in the bright green grass on the bank of a warm river, smiling and chatting with her friends on the shell, a mythical mermaid with blond hair and a river diadem on her head

“The Shell” by James Stephens

And then I pressed the shell
Close to my ear
And listened well,
And straightway like a bell
Came low and clear
The slow, sad murmur of the distant seas,
Whipped by an icy breeze
Upon a shore
Wind-swept and desolate.
It was a sunless strand that never bore
The footprint of a man,
Nor felt the weight
Since time began
Of any human quality or stir
Save what the dreary winds and waves incur.
And in the hush of waters was the sound
Of pebbles rolling round,
For ever rolling with a hollow sound.
And bubbling sea-weeds as the waters go
Swish to and fro
Their long, cold tentacles of slimy grey.
There was no day,
Nor ever came a night
Setting the stars alight
To wonder at the moon:
Was twilight only and the frightened croon,
Smitten to whimpers, of the dreary wind
And waves that journeyed blind—
And then I loosed my ear … O, it was sweet
To hear a cart go jolting down the street.

Poems About Seashells and Love

Woman in red medieval dress

“The Tutelage” by Robert Mowry Bell

In the coiled shell sounds Ocean’s distant roar,
Oft to our listening hearts come heavenly strains;—
Men say, “That was the blood in our own veins,
And this,—but the echo of our hope; no more.”
And yet, the murmuring sea exists, which bore
That frail creation o’er its watery plains;
And on Time’s sands full many a shell remains
Tossed by Eternity upon its shore.
Its tongue our hope from Nature’s self has caught.
Matter nor force is lost as æons roll.
And mind?—Love life conserves and death abates,—
Through the long ages this has nature taught.
Under the stars she plights the wistful soul:
“Life ruled by Love nor dies nor dissipates.”

“Modern Love: XXVII” by George Meredith

Distraction is the panacea, Sir!
I hear my oracle of Medicine say.
Doctor! that same specific yesterday
I tried, and the result will not deter
A second trial. Is the devil’s line
Of golden hair, or raven black, composed?
And does a cheek, like any sea-shell rosed,
Or clear as widowed sky, seem most divine?
No matter, so I taste forgetfulness.
And if the devil snare me, body and mind,
Here gratefully I score:—he seemëd kind,
When not a soul would comfort my distress!
O sweet new world, in which I rise new made!
O Lady, once I gave love: now I take!
Lady, I must be flattered. Shouldst thou wake
The passion of a demon, be not afraid.

“A Birthday” by Christina Rossetti

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these,
Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a daïs of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.

Side view picture of a mermaid sitting in the waterfall

“The Scallop Shell” by Dora Sigerson Shorter

A scallop shell, loosed by the lifting tide,
Had left a friendly shore, the seas to brave;
Its lips of pink and snowy hollow shone
Pure in the sun, a pearl upon the wave.

It gleamed and passed-you burdened it with love,
With sweet long futures, new and dreamy days:
And named for me-because I held your hopes.
I bid you hush-not meriting your praise.

I pointed, where your vessel came to shore,
Wrecked where the tiny breakers rose and fell;
And bid your voyagers not put to sea
So fail a craft as this poor scallop shell.

“The Shell” by Alfred Tennyson

See what a lovely shell,
Small and pure as a pearl,
Lying close to my foot,
Frail, but a work divine,
Made so fairily well
With delicate spire and whorl,
How exquisitely minute,
A miracle of design!
What is it? a learned man
Could give it a clumsy name.
Let him name it who can,
The beauty would be the same.
The tiny cell is forlorn,
Void of the little living will
That made it stir on the shore.
Did he stand at the diamond door
Of his house in a rainbow frill?
Did he push, when he was uncurl’d,
A golden foot or a fairy horn
Thro’ his dim water-world?
Slight, to be crush’d with a tap
Of my finger-nail on the sand,
Small, but a work divine,
Frail, but of force to withstand,
Year upon year, the shock
Of cataract seas that snap
The three-decker’s oaken spine
Athwart the ledges of rock,
Here on the Breton strand!

Poems About Seashells and Death

Young beautiful girl in the image of a mermaid

“Sea-Shell Murmurs” by Eugene Lee-Hamilton

The hollow sea-shell, which for years hath stood
On dusty shelves, when held against the ear
Proclaims its stormy parents; and we hear
The faint far murmur of the breaking flood.
We hear the sea. The sea? It is the blood
In our own veins, impetuous and near,
And pulses keeping pace with hope and fear
And with our feeling’s every shifting mood.
Lo, in my heart I hear, as in a shell,
The murmur of a world beyond the grave,
Distinct, distinct, though faint and far it be.
Thou fool; this echo is a cheat as well,—
The hum of earthly instincts; and we crave
A world unreal as the shell-heard sea.

“A Shell.” by Fannie Isabelle Sherrick

Oh, take this shell, this pretty thing
With tinted waves of pearly red;
Hold close your ear and hear it sing,
Then tell me what its voice hath said.
A song of surges deep and strong,
A song of summer sweet and long,
A sound of storm and wind and rain,
A sound of joy–a glad refrain.

O plaything of the idle sea,
Whence come these changing tints of thine?
Have sunset clouds looked down on thee
And stained thee with their hues divine?
Oh, tell the secrets thou must know
Of clouds above and waves below;
Oh, whisper of the bending sky
And ocean caves where jewels lie.

O beauteous sea-shell, tinged with red,
What dost thou know; what canst thou tell?
Unto what mysteries are thou wed,
Thou fragile thing, thou pearly shell?
A whisper of the sounding sea;
A sweep of surges strong and free;
A tale of life–a tale of death;
A warm, bright sin–an icy breath.

Ah, more than this, thou lovely shell,
Thy years have gathered from the deep!
And, more than this, thy voice can tell
Of things learned in that ocean sleep.
A grave within the lonely sea;
A spot where love can never be;
A place where tears may never fall;
A lonely grave–and that is all.

“An English Shell” by Arthur Christopher Benson

I was an English shell,
Cunningly made and well,
With a heart of fire in an iron frame,
Ready to break in fury and flame,
Slice through the ranks my raging way,
Dying myself, to slay.
Out from the heart of the battle-ship,
Yelling a song of death, I rose,
Brake from the cannon’s smoky lip
Into a land of foes:—
How was I baffled? I soared and sank
Over the bastion, across the hill,
Into the lap of a grassy bank,
Impotent there to kill.
Slowly the thunder died away;—
My merry comrades, how you roared,
Loud and jubilant, while I lay
Sunk in the slothful sward!
Peace came back with her corn and wine,
Smiling faint with a bleeding breast,
While in the offing, over the brine
My battle-ship steered to the West.
Then were the long slopes crowned again
With clustering vines and waving grain,
Winter by winter the stealing rain
Fretted me rotting there.
Suddenly once as I sadly slept,
Tinkling, the slow team over me stept,—
Jarring the ploughshare,—I was swept
Into the breezy air.
Why did he tempt me? I had lain
Year by year in the peaceful rain,
Till my lionlike heart had grown
Dull and motionless, heavy as stone;—
Mocking, he smote me:—
Then I leapt
Out in my anger, and screamed and swept
Him as he laughed in a storm of blood,
Shattered sinew and flying brain,
Brake the cottage and scarred the wood,
Roaring across the plain.
How should you blame me? Ay, ’t was peace!
War was the word I had learned to know;—
Think you, I was an English shell,
Trained one lesson alone to spell—
I had vowed as I lay below,
Vowed to perish and find release
Slaying an English foe.

Fairy sitting on the grass in the middle of the lake. A wreath m

“A Minor Poet” by Stephen Vincent Benet

I am a shell. From me you shall not hear
The splendid tramplings of insistent drums,
The orbed gold of the viol’s voice that comes,
Heavy with radiance, languorous and clear.
Yet, if you hold me close against the ear,
A dim, far whisper rises clamorously,
The thunderous beat and passion of the sea,
The slow surge of the tides that drown the mere.

Others with subtle hands may pluck the strings,
Making even Love in music audible,
And earth one glory. I am but a shell
That moves, not of itself, and moving sings;
Leaving a fragrance, faint as wine new-shed,
A tremulous murmur from great days long dead.

“Elegy on a Shell—the Nautilus” by Samuel Latham Mitchill

I saw thee, beauteous form,
As late I walked the oceanic strand,
And as my curiosity was warm,
I took thee in my hand.
Soon I discovered, a terrific storm,
Which nothing human could command,
Had robbed thee of thy life and cast thee on the sand.
Thou wast a house with many chambers fraught,
Built by a Nautilus or Argonaut,
With fitness, symmetry, and skill,
To suit the owner’s taste and sovereign will.
In curves of elegance thy shape appears,
Surpassing art through centuries of years,
By tints and colors brilliant made,
And all,—the finished workman has displayed.
In life thy home was near Manilla’s shore,
Where on the bottom groves of coral grow,
And when aweary of thy seat below,
Thee and thy architect the flood uplifted bore.
Then on the surface of the placid wave,
With guiding oars and elevated sail,
Thou didst enjoy the pleasure-breathing gale,
And in the sea thy healthy body lave.
To thee allied is many a splendid shell,
In which a fair Mollusca used to dwell,
Such as the Harpa, marked with chorded signs,
The Musica, with imitative lines,
The Cowry, with its spots and figures gay,
The Cone, distinguished by its rich array,
The smooth Volute, that glossy beauty bears,
The prized Scalaria, with its winding stairs,
The Murex, famous for its purple dye,
The Trochus, dressed to captivate the eye,
And Buccinum and Strombus, taught to sound
Their signal notes to every region round.
These sorts and more, through rich museums spread,
Are vacant dwellings, and their tenants dead,
And though there’s not an occupant alive,
The well cemented tenements survive.
So man erects in sumptuous mode
A structure proud for his abode,
But knows not, when of life bereft,
Who’ll creep within the shell he left.

“A Mussel Shell” by Celia Laighton Thaxter

Why art thou colored like the evening sky
Sorrowing for sunset? Lovely dost thou lie,
Bared by the washing of the eager brine,
At the snow’s motionless and wind-carved line.
Cold stretch the snows, cold throng the waves, the wind
Stings sharp,—an icy fire, a touch unkind,—
And sighs as if with passion of regret,
The while I mark thy tints of violet.
O beauty strange! O shape of perfect grace,
Whereon the lovely waves of color trace
The history of the years that passed thee by,
And touched thee with the pathos of the sky!
The sea shall crush thee; yea, the ponderous wave
Up the loose beach shall grind, and scoop thy grave,
Thou thought of God! What more than thou and I?
Both transient as the sad wind’s passing sigh.

Portrait of exotic fantasy mermaid in blue ocean

“With a Nantucket Shell” by Charles Henry Webb

I send thee a shell from the ocean beach;
But listen thou well, for my shell hath speech.
Hold to thine ear,
And plain thou’lt hear
Tales of ships
That were lost in the rips,
Or that sunk on shoals
Where the bell-buoy tolls,
And ever and ever its iron tongue rolls
In a ceaseless lament for the poor lost souls.
And a song of the sea
Has my shell for thee;
The melody in it
Was hummed at Wauwinet,
And caught at Coatue
By the gull that flew
Outside to the ship with its perishing crew.
But the white wings wave
Where none may save,
And there ’s never a stone to mark a grave.
See, its sad heart bleeds
For the sailors’ needs;
But it bleeds again
For more mortal pain,
More sorrow and woe,
Than is theirs who go
With shuddering eyes and whitening lips
Down in the sea on their shattered ships.
Thou fearest the sea?
And a tyrant is he,—
A tyrant as cruel as tyrant may be;
But though winds fierce blow,
And the rocks lie low,
And the coast be lee,
This I say to thee:
Of Christian souls more have been wrecked on shore
Than ever were lost at sea!