Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

New England: Lynn, Mass.

High Rock

By 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,

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

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;

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,

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

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.

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

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;

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,

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

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

Of the restless hurrying tides below.