Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Scotland: Vols. VI–VIII. 1876–79.

Staffa, the Island


By William Sotheby (1757–1833)

STAFFA, I scaled thy summit hoar,

I passed beneath thy arch gigantic,

Whose pillared cavern swells the roar,

When thunders on thy rocky shore

The roll of the Atlantic.

That hour the wind forgot to rave,

The surge forgot its motion,

And every pillar in thy cave

Slept in its shadow on the wave,

Unrippled by the ocean.

Then the past age before me came,

When mid the lightning’s sweep,

Thy isle with its basaltic frame,

And every column wreathed with flame,

Burst from the boiling deep.

When mid Iona’s wrecks meanwhile

O’er sculptured graves I trod,

Where Time had strewn each mouldering aisle

O’er saints and kings that reared the pile,

I hailed the eternal God:

Yet, Staffa, more I felt his presence in thy cave

Than where Iona’s cross rose o’er the western wave.