A weathered cliff of crumbling red
the western skyline overhead
contours in towering majesty
above the stony travesty
that some might call a beach,
by sandy bluffs with marsh grass grown
that whispers when the gulls have flown
white breasted from their Winter stay
to Summer heights, where proud they lay
beyond the rodent’s reach.
The sea slides soft’ o’er shingle shore
beneath a sad neglected door
and lap, slip, slaps with silvery white
from Noon until the dead of night
when silent phantoms roam:
now through the aeons ’twixt the flash
from distant light, the breakers crash
with unprodigious harmony
the granite outcrop’s slimy piers
upon, by gale winds blown.
Beneath the rocks a sandy bar
its golden fingers stretches far
to kiss the ebb tide’s silent nodes
beyond the shadows reaching broad
from cliff tops whom the Sun,
with setting, dying crimson blood
that did upon a hillside flood
in ancient times, has lifted high
to dominate the evening sky -
and night had just begun.
The sandy stones and granite blocks
which once, new-square, were from the rocks
hewn, stacked and built into a house
which, now in ruins like a mouse
before old Neptune’s cat,
who washes softly at the door
then lashes fury with his paws,
has lost its dignity and poise;
these decadence and ceaseless noise
now slowly prise apart.
When Summer evenings turn to night
there oft’ is seen a phantom light
that flickers on the breaths of spray
and silent steals around the bay;
then sure is hair to creep.
The shadows of the rocky host
would be a regimental ghost
of customs officers in wait
to see the lugger’s captain "late"
and cast into the deep.
Oft’ times the wind, with mournful moan,
descries a helpless dying groan
that echoes softly in the gloom,
then slowly dies within the room
of emptiness around.
The breeze is chill upon the face;
what fool would to so eerie a place
alone in darkness venture dare,
where waves are omens of despair
and demons must abound.
Invisible beneath the shroud
of drizzled fog and ragged cloud
and distant still, though running fast
now races treacherous are past,
the lugger tacks to port:
the master peers into the haze
and, knowing full the channel’s ways
that lead a man to misconstrue
his distance, speed and avenue,
his keenness lapses nought
Ere long the bay is still again
and creeping is the drizzling rain
but still the phantom light prevails,
though sadly now the West wind wails
of mysteries unknown.
Then once more sobs the maiden voice
as though despising human choice;
and so the murmuring of the sea
is lost in silent memory -
for all has agèd grown.