Sonnet LXX. (On Being Cautioned against Walking on Headland Overlooking the Sea, Because It Was Frequented by a Lunatic.)

- 1749-1806
Is there a solitary wretch who hies
 To the tall cliff, with starting pace or slow,
And, measuring, views with wild and hollow eyes
 Its distance from the waves that chide below;
Who, as the sea-born gale with frequent sighs
 Chills with cold bed upon the mountain turf,
With hoarse, half-utter’d lamentation, lies
 Murmuring responses to the dashing surf?
In moody sadness, on the giddy brink,
 I see him more with envy than with fear;
He has no nice felicities that shrink
 From giant horrors; wildly wandering here,
He seems (uncursed with reason) not to know
 The depth or the duration of his woe.

More by Charlotte Smith

Written on the Banks of the Arun

When latest autumn spreads her evening veil,	
And the gray mists from these dim waves arise,	
I love to listen to the hollow sighs	
Through the half leafless wood that breathes the gale.	
For at such hours the shadowy phantom pale,	        
Oft seems to fleet before the poet's eyes;	
Strange sounds are heard, and mournful melodies	
As of night-wanderers who their woes bewail.	
Here by his native stream, at such an hour,	
Pity's own Otway I methinks could meet	        
And hear his deep sighs swell the saddened wind!	
O Melancholy, such thy magic power	
That to the soul these dreams are often sweet	
And soothe the pensive visionary mind.

To Hope

    Oh, Hope! thou soother sweet of human woes!
    How shall I lure thee to my haunts forlorn!
For me wilt thou renew the wither’d rose,
    And clear my painful path of pointed thorn?
Ah come, sweet nymph! in smiles and softness drest,
    Like the young hours that lead the tender year,
Enchantress! come, and charm my cares to rest:—
    Alas! the flatterer flies, and will not hear!
A prey to fear, anxiety, and pain,
    Must I a sad existence still deplore?
Lo!—the flowers fade, but all the thorns remain,
    “For me the vernal garland blooms no more.”
Come then, “pale Misery’s love!” be thou my cure,
And I will bless thee, who, tho’ slow, art sure.

Huge Vapours Brood above the Clifted Shore

Huge vapours brood above the clifted shore,
Night o’er the ocean settles, dark and mute,
Save where is heard the repercussive roar
Of drowsy billows, on the rugged foot
Of rocks remote; or still more distant tone
Of seamen, in the anchored bark, that tell
The watch reliev’d; or one deep voice alone
Singing the hour, and bidding “strike the bell.”
All is black shadow, but the lucid line
Mark’d by the light surf on the level sand,
Or where afar, the ship-lights faintly shine
Like wandering fairy fires, that oft on land
Mislead the pilgrim; such the dubious ray
That wavering reason lends, in life’s long darkling way.

Related Poems

How Like the Sea

How like the sea, the myriad-minded sea,
Is this large love of ours: so vast, so deep,
So full of myseries! it, too, can keep
Its secrets, like the ocean; and is free,
Free, as the boundless main. Now it may be
Calm like the brow of some sweet child asleep;
Again its seething billows surge and leap
And break in fulness of their ecstasy.

Each wave so like the wave which came before,
Yet never two the same! Imperative
And then persuasive as the cooing dove,
Encroaching ever on the yielding shore—
Ready to take; yet readier still to give—
How like the myriad-minded sea, is love.