For a Cavern that Overlooks the River Avon

Robert Southey

Enter this cavern, Stranger! Here, awhile
Respiring from the long and steep ascent,
Thou mayst be glad of rest, and haply too
Of shade, if from the summer's westering sun
Sheltered beneath this beetling vault of rock.
Round the rude portal clasping its rough arms,
The antique ivy spreads a canopy,
From whose gray blossoms the wild bees collect
In autumn their last store. The Muses love
This spot; believe a Poet who hath felt
Their visitation here. The tide below,
Rising or refluent, scarcely sends its sound
Of waters up ; and from the heights beyond,
Where the high-hanging forest waves and sways,
Varying before the wind its verdant hues,
The voice is music here. Here thou mayst feel
How good, how lovely. Nature! And when, hence
Returning to the city's crowded streets,
Thy sickening eye at eveiy step revolts
From scenes of vice and wretchedness, reflect
That Man creates the evil he endures.

The poem refers to "St Vincent's Cave", a cavern associated with early Christians.  It opens in the cliff-face of Clifton Gorge, overlooking the River Avon. The cave is 250 feet above the valley floor. It is close to the Clifton Observatory and its Camera Obscura, and to the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Perviously the only way to reach the cave was to climb the cliff. However a tunnel was cut in the 1830s, evidently after Southey made his ascent.