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Do love to dash and madly play,
Casting high the glistening spray,
Have witnessed sights forlorn.
Sights most piteous to behold,
Immovable, stern, solid, cold,
Those rocks have seen, and loudly heard,
Above the storm and scream of bird,
that comes in agony From some poor soul despairingly Struggling on with hope deferred.
But why thus dwell on sight and scene?
Such fearful nightmares of life's dream ;
They struggled with the wild sea-foam
In death's cold agony alone ;
Yet now, we trust, in peace they rest,
Beneath the Ocean's heaving breast,
And breakers' hollow moan.
Their lives were as the grains of sand,
Tossed by the waves upon the Land;
Upon Eternity's dim shore,
Where many millions gone before,
Do rest them from the ills of life,
With all its struggles, all its strife
A silent, peaceful band.
Thus, too, our years are passing on,
As shadows on the hills, then
For ever from this World of Pain ;
Say, shall we ever meet again,
Where storm-winds ne'er assail,
And cause the cheek of health to pale,
With death upon the Main ?
Farewell, Old Relics of the Deep !
Your silent ranks do ever speak
Of many a Ship and her brave Crew
That sailed the World of Waters blue
Long years ago; and say in words,-
The echoes of the distant surge,-
Ye are sailing onward too!
In a shed in the gardens of Tresco Abbey, Scilly Isles, are a collection of Old Figureheads of Ships wrecked and lost around the Isles, and from the feelings evoked at the sight of these battered and Silent Relics of the Deep I composed this Poem in the Coastguard Watch-house, May 21-22, 1884, whilst on a visit there.
'Twas Eve, and the blushing Sun
His crescent course had duly run ;
Reflected clouds of varied hue
Their tinted shadows changing threw
Athwart the rippling waters.
Seated 'neath a mighty Cliff,
Whose aged and giant form was lift
High toward that heavenly throng,
Which sailed in radiant garb along
The peaceful Evening azure,
I viewed its rugged beauty,
Stern as a Sentinel on duty !
Lifting high its hoary form;
Breasting both the Calm and Storm,
Bearing each with dignity.
As Gibraltar, Guardian of a Sea ; Well garrisoned by Britons free, Presenting stern thy face to Ocean, And within, all animated motion, So art thou, Old Cliff, to me.
Thy shadow falls upon the Deep
Which sleeps so gently at thy feet.
It seems as if thine Enemy,
Who 'gainst thee wars incessantly,
Had tired, made a peaceful truce.
Father of a wild and lonely scene
Thou for Centuries hast been.
Oft sheltered by thy soaring height,
Through sultry day and wintry night
Weary flocks by thee find rest.
Around thy old red sandstone face
The swallows swift each other chase;
Or from within a niche of stone,
Where safely rests their little home,
Look boldly down, secure from man.
Confiding here on dizzy ledge
Grown o'er with lichens, moss, and sedge,
The rockdove builds her nest;
And with gray-headed daws doth rest
Calm, trusting in thy shelter.
Here rabbits, too, find safe retreat
From hounds and foes they dare not meet,
And swarms of wild bees safely hive;
In fact, the Old Cliff seems alive
For timid ones a happy home.
Young hazels cluster'd here and there,
An emerald beauty mid the air,
Adorn thy sheltered rifts,
Kind Nature's sturdy gifts,
To decorate thy sterile frame.
Here oft the throstle pours its lay; Perched on some budding hawthorn spray,
His song bursts forth from that high chair,
Flooding all the ambient air
With glorious waves of melody.
And nestling in thy shadowy nooks
The early primrose shyly looks
From out its rocky, airy cell
Upon the yet uncovered dell
Where roams the truant schoolboy,
Who looks at it with longing eyes,
To secure it vainly tries;
Views the dewdrops in its cup-
Again essays to clamber up,
And fails him as before.
Out nigh the distant horizon,
Where lingers yet the parting Sun;
White sails glance in the Evening ray
Like phantoms of the dying day
Now so calmly stealing onward.
Oh, rugged Monarch, stern and lone!
Thou art the fortress, and the home
Of timid ones ; a mighty tower,
When deadly dangers darkly lower ;