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COAST SCENERY, by             Poem Explanation        
First Line: These iron-rifted cliffs, that o'er the deep
Last Line: Its caverned base, the ocean's melancholy thunder?
Subject(s): Ireland; Landscape; Seashore; Irish; Beach; Coast; Shore



THESE iron-rifted cliffs, that o'er the deep,
Wave-worn and thunder-scarred, enormous lower,
Stand like the work of some primeval Power,
Titan or Demiurgos, that would keep
Firm ward forever o'er the bastioned steep
Of turret-crowned Beltard, or mightiest Moher:
Vainly beneath, as though they would devour
The rooted rocks before them, reel and leap
The headlong waves; and as a plumed phalanx,
Crushed in the assault of some strong citadel,
Indomitable still, its shattered ranks
Cheers to the breach again, and yet again,
So from the battling billows bursts the swell
Of a more awful combat than of men!



THOUGH all is grand, nay, somewhat stern, around,
Yet softer beauties decorate the scene:
No floral garniture of meadow ground,
No perspective of pastures ever green,
No shadowy pomp of woods, no silver sheen
Of waterfalls, with music in their sound,
Nor mountains, fading in the blue serene,
Nor perfume of the gardens, here are found.
Yet here hath Nature lavished hues, and scent,
And melody, born handmaids of the ocean:
Metallic veins, with moss and rock-flowers blent,
Brighten the laminated crag; the motion
Of waves, the breezes fragrant from the sea,
And cry of birds, combine one glorious symphony!



THAT last and loftiest cape, whose wasted front
Looks down the Atlantic waters evermore,
Far out above the main sustains a gaunt
Colossal head (so seems it) bending o'er,
With stony gaze perpetual, the wild shore:
There fixed for ages, where her wiles were wont
To lure and to betray, a mightier Power
Charmed into stone the Siren at her haunt,
A monumental beacon. Such the tale
Our simple hinds rely on, to its place
Accordant. In that hoary mass we trace
Features, like death in frost compressed and pale,
And awful as the sculptures in the vale
Of Nile, -- the Memphian Sphinx, and Osymandias.



THE waters -- O the waters! -- wild and glooming,
Beneath the stormy pall that shrouds the sky,
On, through the deepening mist more darkly looming,
Plumed with the pallid foam funereally,
Onward, like death, they come, the rocks entombing!
Nor thunder knell is needful from on high;
Nor sound of signal gun, momently booming
O'er the disastrous deep; nor seaman's cry!
And yet, -- if aught were wanting, -- manifold
Mementos haunt those reefs: how that proud host
Of Spain and Rome so smitten were of old,
By God's decree, along this fatal coast,
And over all their purple and their gold,
Mitre, and helm, and harp, the avenging waters rolled!



IT may not be, because this tranquil hour,
Brightening elsewhere to beauty scenes more grand,
Here lights with milder beam a lowlier strand,
And that yon sea, like a tired warrior,
For quiet joy hath laid aside his power,
That unattractive, therefore, must expand
This graceful curvature of golden sand
By the ebbing tide left shining. Vernal bower
Is scarce more fragrant than those weeds marine
Fringing the chrysolite, pellucid wells,
Wave-worn in the rock, where children stoop for shells,
And braiding yon gray reef with tresses green,
Where sunset loiterers love at eve to stand, --
Dark groups, with shadows lengthening to the land.



AND O ye solitudes of rocks and waters,
And medicinable gales and sounds Lethean,
Remote from strife and fratricidal slaughters,
Have I not sighed to hear your mighty paean,
Reverberating through the empyrean,
And yearned to gaze while your white-throated surges
Leap, and dissolve in air, like shapes Protean,
That sport in the sunset, as the moon emerges
Over the sea-cliff? Have I not felt the longing
Then most intensely, when the storm-steed rushes
O'er the wild waves tumultuously thronging,
Smiting their wan crests, -- scattering as he crushes; --
To stand on some lone peak, and hear, from under
Its caverned base, the ocean's melancholy thunder?

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