Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


The Cliffs

By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

(From King Lear)

THERE is a cliff whose high and bending head

Looks fearfully in the confinéd deep.


Come on, sir; here ’s the place;—stand still. How fearful

And dizzy ’t is, to cast one’s eyes so low!

The crows and choughs, that wing the midway air,

Show scarce so gross as beetles: half-way down

Hangs one that gathers samphire: dreadful trade!

Methinks he seems no bigger than his head:

The fishermen, that walk upon the beach,

Appear like mice; and yond’ tall anchoring bark

Diminished to her cock; her cock, a buoy

Almost too small for sight: the murmuring surge,

That on the unnumbered idle pebbles chafes,

Cannot be heard so high:—I ’ll look no more;

Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight

Topple down headlong.


From the dread summit of this chalky bourn

Look up a-height; the shrill-gorged lark so far

Cannot be seen or heard.