**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Poem.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Story
by [?]

Perhaps like this the songs she used to wail
In the rough northern tongue of Aberdeen:–

Ye’ll hae me yet, ye’ll hae me yet,
Sae lang an’ braid, an’ never a hame!
Its nae the depth I fear a bit,
But oh, the wideness, aye the same!

The jaws[1] come up, wi’ eerie bark;
Cryin’ I’m creepy, cauld, an’ green;
Come doon, come doon, he’s lyin’ stark,
Come doon an’ steek his glowerin’ een.

Syne wisht! they haud their weary roar,
An’ slide awa’, an’ I grow sleepy:
Or lang, they’re up aboot my door,
Yowlin’, I’m cauld, an’ weet, an’ creepy!

O dool, dool! ye are like the tide–
Ye mak’ a feint awa’ to gang;
But lang awa’ ye winna bide,–
An’ better greet than aye think lang.

[Footnote 1: Jaws: English, breakers.]

Where’er she fled, the same voice followed her;
Whisperings innumerable of water-drops
Growing together to a giant voice;
That sometimes in hoarse, rushing undertones,
Sometimes in thunderous peals of billowy shouts,
Called after her to come, and make no stay.
From the dim mists that brooded seaward far,
And from the lonely tossings of the waves,
Where rose and fell the raving wilderness,
Voices, pursuing arms, and beckoning hands,
Reached shorewards from the shuddering mystery.
Then sometimes uplift, on a rocky peak,
A lonely form betwixt the sea and sky,
Watchers on shore beheld her fling wild arms
High o’er her head in tossings like the waves;
Then fix them, with clasped hands of prayer intense,
Forward, appealing to the bitter sea.
Then sudden from her shoulders she would tear
Her garments, one by one, and cast them far
Into the roarings of the heedless surge,
A vain oblation to the hungry waves.
Such she did mean it; and her pitying friends
Clothed her in vain–their gifts did bribe the sea.
But such a fire was burning in her brain,
The cold wind lapped her, and the sleet-like spray
Flashed, all unheeded, on her tawny skin.
As oft she brought her food and flung it far,
Reserving scarce a morsel for her need–
Flung it–with naked arms, and streaming hair
Floating like sea-weed on the tide of wind,
Coal-black and lustreless–to feed the sea.
But after each poor sacrifice, despair,
Like the returning wave that bore it far,
Rushed surging back upon her sickening heart;
While evermore she moaned, low-voiced, between–
Half-muttered and half-moaned: “Ye’ll hae me yet;
Ye’ll ne’er be saired, till ye hae ta’en mysel’.”

And as the night grew thick upon the sea,
Quenching it all, except its voice of storm;
Blotting it from the region of the eye,
Though still it tossed within the haunted brain,
Entering by the portals of the ears,–
She step by step withdrew; like dreaming man,
Who, power of motion all but paralysed,
With an eternity of slowness, drags
His earth-bound, lead-like, irresponsive feet
Back from a living corpse’s staring eyes;
Till on the narrow beach she turned her round.
Then, clothed in all the might of the Unseen,
Terror grew ghostly; and she shrieked and fled
Up to the battered base of the old tower,
And round the rock, and through the arched gap,
Cleaving the blackness of the vault within;
Then sank upon the sand, and gasped, and raved.
This was her secret chamber, this her place
Of refuge from the outstretched demon-deep,
All eye and voice for her, Argus more dread
Than he with hundred lidless watching orbs.
There, cowering in a nook, she sat all night,
Her eyes fixed on the entrance of the cave,
Through which a pale light shimmered from the sea,
Until she slept, and saw the sea in dreams.
Except in stormy nights, when all was dark,
And the wild tempest swept with slanting wing
Against her refuge; and the heavy spray
Shot through the doorway serpentine cold arms
To seize the fore-doomed morsel of the sea:
Then she slept never; and she would have died,
But that she evermore was stung to life
By new sea-terrors. Sometimes the sea-gull
With clanging pinions darted through the arch,
And flapped them round her face; sometimes a wave,
If tides were high and winds from off the sea,
Rushed through the door, and in its watery mesh
Clasped her waist-high, then out again to sea!
Out to the devilish laughter and the fog!
While she clung screaming to the bare rock-wall;
Then sat unmoving, till the low grey dawn
Grew on the misty dance of spouting waves,
That mixed the grey with white; picture one-hued,
Seen in the framework of the arched door:
Then the old fascination drew her out,
Till, wrapt in misty spray, moveless she stood
Upon the border of the dawning sea.