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

Inchcape Rock

The Bell at Sea

By Felicia Hemans (1793–1835)

  • The dangerous islet called the Bell Rock [the Inchcape Rock], on the coast of Forfarshire used formerly to be marked only by a bell, which was so placed as to be swung by the motion of the waves, when the tide rose above the rock. A lighthouse has since been erected there.

  • WHEN the tide’s billowy swell

    Had reached its height,

    Then tolled the rock’s lone bell

    Sternly by night.

    Far over cliff and surge

    Swept the deep sound,

    Making each wild wind’s dirge

    Still more profound.

    Yet that funereal tone

    The sailor blessed,

    Steering through darkness on

    With fearless breast.

    E’en so may we, that float

    On life’s wide sea,

    Welcome each warning note,

    Stern though it be!