A FIRST VIEW OF THE SEA (1805)
The following lines are meant to describe feelings which the circumstances and the scene (the northern
approach to Worthing,) rendered particularly impressive. They are much at your service, and submitted with good wishes to yourself and
Yours, R. B.
Are these the fam’d, the brave South Downs,
That like a chain of pearls appear;
Their pale green sides and graceful crowns?
To freedom, thought, and peace, how dear!
To freedom, for no fence is seen;5
To thought, for silence soothes the way:
To peace, for o’er the boundless green
Unnumber’d flocks and shepherds stray.
Now, now we’ve gain’d the utmost height!
Where shall we match the vale below?10
The Weald of Sussex, glorious sight
Old Chankbury, from thy tufted brow!
Oaks, British oaks form all its shade,
Dark as a forest’s ample crown;
Yet by rich herds how cheerful made,15
And countless spots of harvest brown!
But what’s yon southward, dark-blue, line
Along th’ horizon’s utmost bound,
On which the weary clouds recline,
Still varying half the circle round?20
The Sea! the Sea! my God! the Sea!
Yon sun-beams on its bosom play!
With milk-white sails expanded free,
There ploughs the bark her cheerful way!
I come, I come, my heart beats high;25
The greensward stretches southward still;
Soft in the breeze the heath-bells sigh;
Up, up we scale another hill;
A spot where once the eagle tower’d
O’er Albion’s green primaeval charms;30
And where the harmless wild-thyme flower’d
Did Rome’s proud legions pile their arms.
And here Old Sissa, so they tell,
The Saxon monarch, clos’d his days;
I judge they play’d their parts right well,35
But cannot stop to sing their praise.
For yonder, near the ocean’s brim,
I see; I taste the coming joy;
There Mary binds the wither’d limb,
The mother tends the poor lame boy.40
My heart is there—Sleep, Romans, sleep;
And what are Saxon kings to me?
Let me, O thou majestic Deep,
Let me descend to love and thee.
And may thy calm, fair-flowing tides,45
Bring Peace and Hope, and bid them live,
And Night, whilst wand’ring by thy side,
Teach wisdom—teach me to forgive.
Then, when my heart is whole again,
And Fancy’s renovated wing50
Sweeps o’er the terrors of thy reign,
Strong on my soul those terrors bring.
In infant haunts I’ve dream’d of thee,
And where the crystal brook ran by,
Mark’d sands, and waves, and open sea,55
And gaz’d—but with an infant’s eye.
’Twas joy to pass the stormy hour
In groves, when childhood knew no more;
Increase that joy, tremendous pow’r,
Loud let thy world of waters roar.60
And, if the scene reflection drowns,
Or draws too often rapture’s tear,
I’ll stroll me o’er these lovely Downs,
And press the turf, and worship here.