Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > America
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX.  1876–79.
 
New England: Lynn, Mass.
High Rock
Elizabeth F. Merrill
 
OVERLOOKING the town of Lynn,
So far above that the city’s din
Mingles and blends with the heavy roar
Of the breakers along the curving shore,
Scarred and furrowed and glacier-seamed,        5
Back in the ages so long ago,
The boldest philosopher never dreamed
To count the centuries’ ebb and flow,
Stands a rock with its gray old face
Eastward, ever turned to the place        10
Where first the rim of the sun is seen,—
Whenever the morning sky is bright,—
Cleaving the glistening, glancing sheen
Of the sea with disk of insufferable light.
Down in the earth his roots strike deep;        15
Up to his breast the houses creep,
Climbing e’en to his rugged face,
Or nestling lovingly at his base.
 
Stand on his forehead, bare and brown,
Send your gaze o’er the roofs of the town,        20
Away to the line so faint and dim,
Where the sky stoops down to the crystal rim
Of the broad Atlantic whose billows toss,
Wrestling and weltering and hurrying on
With awful fury whenever across        25
His broad, bright surface with howl and moan,
The Tempest wheels, with black wing bowed
To the yielding waters which fly to the cloud,
Or hurry along with thunderous shocks
To break on the ragged and riven rocks.        30
 
When the tide comes in on a sunny day,
You can see the waves beat back in spray
From the splintered spurs of Phillips Head,
Or tripping along with dainty tread,
As of a million glancing feet        35
Shake out the light in a quick retreat,
Or along the smooth curve of the beach,
Snowy and curling, in long lines reach.
 
An islet anchored and held to land
By a glistening, foam-fringed ribbon of sand;        40
That is Nahant, and that hoary ledge
To the left is Egg Rock, like a blunted wedge,
Cleaving the restless ocean’s breast,
And bearing the lighthouse on its crest.
 
All these things and a hundred more,        45
Hill and meadow and marsh and shore,
Your eye o’erlooks from the gray bluff’s brow;
And I sometimes wonder what, if now
The old rock had a voice, ’t would say
Of the countless years it has gazed afar        50
Over the sea as it looks to-day;
Gazed unmoved, though with furrow and scar
The sculptor ages have wrought his face,
While centuries came and went apace,
Just like the ceaseless ebb and flow        55
Of the restless hurrying tides below.
 
 
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