The Rocks at Peel


A sullen roar, as of a cagèd beast
That hurls its body forward in blind rage,
Leaping in vain to tear the helpless prey
That flinches not behind its iron bars,
And falls off short, glaring in baffled wonder
At such a calm demeanour; then retreats
Unto its corner where it ponders swift
The next attack, from there to start again.

Another sullen roar, and like the beast,
Foaming and crashing, swirling and flooding,
Roaring in a thousand different tones,
The breakers rush between the shouldering rocks,
Mounting and climbing o’er the stern set face,
Hissing, creaming, till with a thund’rous boom,
A boom that, dull and heavy, shakes the ground
Unto its great foundations in the earth
And makes the very hillside tremble quick
With the titanic force of the impact.

The savage white-maned monsters strike the top
Where meet the hanging rocks that laugh at them,
Only to meet defeat, and back again
Stream countless rivers from the sides to join
The parent flood as out it quickly flows,
And down and down the level ever sinks
Till it is almost lost to sight; and up,
Slow shaking itself dry of its white shrouds,
The rock mounts in triumphant grace; and then
A sullen roar, and in the floods again
Pour, tossing their white manes in battle show,
To swirl, to rush, to foam, to rise, to boom
And cast upon the rocks their futile spray.

Futile mayhap to an observer’s eye,
Perched on a crag whence he can watch the play,
Yet every billow knows it makes its mark,
That in the course of time will grow and kill;
For time and wave are both unconquerable!

August, 1927