Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Extracts from The Borough: A Storm on the East Coast
By George Crabbe (1754–1832)
 
[From Letter i.]

VIEW now the winter storm! above, one cloud,
Black and unbroken, all the skies o’ershroud:
The unwieldy porpoise through the day before
Had rolled in view of boding men on shore;
And sometimes hid and sometimes showed his form,        5
Dark as the cloud and furious as the storm.
All where the eye delights yet dreads to roam,
The breaking billows cast the flying foam
Upon the billows rising—all the deep
Is restless change; the waves so swelled and steep,        10
Breaking and sinking, and the sunken swells,
Nor one, one moment, in its station dwells:
But nearer land you may the billows trace,
As if contending in their watery chase;
May watch the mightiest till the shoal they reach,        15
Then break and hurry to their utmost stretch;
Curled as they come, they strike with furious force,
And then, reflowing, take their grating course,
Raking the rounded flints, which ages past
Rolled by their rage, and shall to ages last.        20
Far off the petrel in the troubled way
Swims with her brood, or flutters in the spray;
She rises often, often drops again,
And sports at ease on the tempestuous main.
High o’er the restless deep, above the reach        25
Of gunners’ hope, vast flocks of wild-duck stretch;
Far as the eye can glance on either side,
In a broad space and level line they glide;
All in their wedge-like figures from the north
Day after day, flight after flight, go forth.        30
In-shore their passage tribes of sea-gulls urge,
And drop for prey within the sweeping surge;
Oft in the rough opposing blast they fly
Far back, then turn and all their force apply,
While to the storm they give their weak complaining cry;        35
Or clap the sleek white pinion on the breast,
And in the restless ocean dip for rest.
  Darkness begins to reign; the louder wind
Appals the weak, and awes the firmer mind;
But frights not him whom evening and the spray        40
In part conceal—yon prowler on his way;
Lo, he has something seen; he runs apace,
As if he fear’d companion in the chase;
He sees his prize, and now he turns again,
Slowly and sorrowing—‘Was your search in vain?’        45
Gruffly he answers, ‘’Tis a sorry sight!
A seaman’s body: there ’ll be more to-night!’
 
 
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