St Bees Head

Thomas Edward Brown

I HAVE seen cliffs that met the ocean foe
As a black bison, with his crouching front
And neck back-coiled, awaits the yelping hunt,
That reck not of his horns protruding low.

And others I have seen with calm disdain
O'erlook the immediate strife, and gaze afar
Eternity was in that gaze ; the jar
Of temporal broil assailed not its domain.

Some cliffs are full of pity : in the sweep
Of their bluff brows a kindly tolerance waits,
And smiles upon the petulant sea, that rates,
And fumes, and scolds against the patient steep.

And some are joyous with a hearty joy,
And in mock-earnest wage the busy fight
So may you see a giant with delight
Parrying the buffets of a saucy boy!

Remonstrant others stand — a wild surprise
Glares from their crests against the insolent throng ;
Half frightened, half indignant at the wrong,
They look appealing to those heedless skies.

And other some are of a sleepy mood,
Who care not if the tempest does its worst
What is't to them if bounding billows burst,
Or winds assail them with their jeerings rude ?

But like not unto any one of these
Is that tall crag, that northward guards the bay,
And stands, a watchful sentry, night and day
Above the pleasant downs of old St. Bee's.

Straight-levelled as the bayonet's dread array,
His shelves abide the charge. Come one, come all!
The blustering surges at his feet shall fall
And writhe and sob their puny lives away!