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Poems About Rocks

Table of Contents

  1. The Rock by Amos Russel Wells
  2. The Pebble and the Acorn by Hannah Flagg Gould
  3. The Inchcape Rock by Robert Southey
  4. Simplicity by Emily Dickinson
  5. The Deserted Pasture by Bliss Carman
  6. The Old Gray Wall by Bliss Carman
  7. The Rock in the Sea by Henry Ames Blood
  8. The Rock and the Sand by Amos Russel Wells
  9. The Dream Rock by Ruby Archer
  10. The Old Stone Quarry by Ellen P. Allerton
  11. Pebbles by Frank Dempster Sherman
  12. At Stonehenge by Katharine Lee Bates
  13. Bald Head Cliff by Thaddeus Pomeroy Cressey

  1. The Rock

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Encircled by the sea, a stony ledge
    Lies at the breaker's edge.
    The ebbing and the flowing of the tide
    Disclose the rock, and hide.
    Now like a granite lion crouching there
    Its head is black in air,
    And now the whelming waters in a night
    Have stolen it from sight.

    Still to the nether deep its rocky root
    And stone foundations shoot;
    Far down, far down, its granite pillar goes
    Where tide nor ebbs nor flows,
    Unseen or seen, beneath the surges' roar,
    Based on earth's central core.

    What cares the rock, though now its head is high,
    Now hidden from the sky,—
    A little more, perchance a little less,
    For human eyes to guess?
    What matter where the fickle waters run?
    The rock and Earth are one!

    And thus, poor friends, who mourn, uncomforted,
    Your loved, untimely dead.
    What though the murky and relentless sea
    Rose unexpectedly,
    And that dear form your life were given to save
    Lies underneath the wave?

    Look with the leaping eye of conquering faith
    The gloomy flood beneath;
    Well do you know to what unending ends
    That vanished life extends;
    Well do you know what vast Foundation Stone
    Its hope was fixed upon,
    Based on the quiet, peaceful, ocean floor,—
    The life for evermore!

    Death's tide some day will let its captives free:
    There shall be no more sea!

  2. Simplicity

    by Emily Dickinson

    How happy is the little stone
    That rambles in the road alone,
    And doesn't care about careers,
    And exigencies never fears;
    Whose coat of elemental brown
    A passing universe put on;
    And independent as the sun,
    Associates or glows alone,
    Fulfilling absolute decree
    In casual simplicity.

  3. The Pebble and the Acorn

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    "I am a Pebble! and yield to none!"
    Were swelling words of a tiny stone,
    "Nor time nor season can alter me;
    I am abiding, while ages flee.
    The pelting hail and the drizzling rain
    Have tried to soften me, long, in vain;
    And the tender dew has sought to melt,
    Or touch my heart; but it was not felt.
    There's none that can tell about my birth,
    For I'm as old as the big, round earth.
    The children of men arise, and pass
    Out of the world, like the blades of grass;
    And many a foot on me has trod,
    That's gone from sight, and under the sod!
    I am a Pebble! but who art thou,
    Rattling along from the restless bough?"

    The Acorn was shocked at this rude salute,
    And lay for a moment abashed and mute;
    She never before had been so near
    This gravelly ball, the mundane sphere;
    And she felt for a time at a loss to know
    How to answer a thing so coarse and low.
    But to give reproof of a nobler sort
    Than the angry look, or the keen retort,

    At length she said, in a gentle tone,
    "Since it has happened that I am thrown
    From the lighter element, where I grew,
    Down to another, so hard and new,
    And beside a personage so august,
    Abased, I will cover my head with dust,
    And quickly retire from the sight of one
    Whom time, nor season, nor storm, nor sun,
    Nor the gentle dew, nor the grinding heel
    Has ever subdued, or made to feel!"
    And soon, in the earth, she sunk away
    From the comfortless spot where the Pebble lay.

    But it was not long ere the soil was broke
    By the peering head of an infant oak!
    And, as it arose and its branches spread,
    The Pebble looked up, and wondering said,
    "A modest Acorn! never to tell
    What was enclosed in its simple shell;
    That the pride of the forest was folded up
    In the narrow space of its little cup!
    And meekly to sink in the darksome earth,
    Which proves that nothing could hide her worth!
    And oh! how many will tread on me,
    To come and admire the beautiful tree,
    Whose head is towering towards the sky,
    Above such a worthless thing as I!
    Useless and vain, a cumberer here,
    I have been idling from year to year.

    But never, from this, shall a vaunting word
    From the humbled Pebble again be heard,
    Till something without me or within,
    Shall show the purpose for which I've been!"
    The Pebble its vow could not forget,
    And it lies there wrapt in silence yet.

  4. The Inchcape Rock

    by Robert Southey

    No stir in the air, no stir in the sea,
    The Ship was still as she could be;
    Her sails from heaven received no motion,
    Her keel was steady in the ocean.

    Without either sign or sound of their shock,
    The waves flow’d over the Inchcape Rock;
    So little they rose, so little they fell,
    They did not move the Inchcape Bell.

    The Abbot of Aberbrothok
    Had placed that bell on the Inchcape Rock;
    On a buoy in the storm it floated and swung,
    And over the waves its warning rung.

    When the Rock was hid by the surge’s swell,
    The Mariners heard the warning Bell;
    And then they knew the perilous Rock,
    And blest the Abbot of Aberbrothok

    The Sun in the heaven was shining gay,
    All things were joyful on that day;
    The sea-birds scream’d as they wheel’d round,
    And there was joyaunce in their sound.

    The buoy of the Inchcpe Bell was seen
    A darker speck on the ocean green;
    Sir Ralph the Rover walk’d his deck,
    And fix’d his eye on the darker speck.

    He felt the cheering power of spring,
    It made him whistle, it made him sing;
    His heart was mirthful to excess,
    But the Rover’s mirth was wickedness.

    His eye was on the Inchcape Float;
    Quoth he, “My men, put out the boat,
    And row me to the Inchcape Rock,
    And I’ll plague the Abbot of Aberbrothok.”

    The boat is lower’d, the boatmen row,
    And to the Inchcape Rock they go;
    Sir Ralph bent over from the boat,
    And he cut the bell from the Inchcape Float.

    Down sank the Bell with a gurgling sound,
    The bubbles rose and burst around;
    Quoth Sir Ralph, “The next who comes to the Rock,
    Won’t bless the Abbot of Aberbrothok.”

    Sir ralph the Rover sail’d away,
    He scour’d the seas for many a day;
    And now grown rich with plunder’d store,
    He steers his course for Scotland’s shore.

    So thick a haze o’erspreads the sky,
    They cannot see the sun on high;
    The wind hath blown a gale all day,
    At evening it hath died away.

    On the deck the Rover takes his stand,
    So dark it is they see no land.
    Quoth Sir Ralph, “It will be lighter soon,
    For there is the dawn of the rising Moon.”

    “Canst hear,” said one, “the breakers roar?
    For methinks we should be near the shore.”
    “Now, where we are I cannot tell,
    But I wish we could hear the Inchcape Bell.”

    They hear no sound, the swell is strong,
    Though the wind hath fallen they drift along;
    Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock,
    “Oh Christ! It is the Inchcape Rock!”

    Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair,
    He curst himself in his despair;
    The waves rush in on every side,
    The ship is sinking beneath the tide.

    But even in his dying fear,
    One dreadful sound could the Rover hear;
    A sound as if with the Inchcape Bell,
    The Devil below was ringing his knell.

  5. The Deserted Pasture

    by Bliss Carman

    I love the stony pasture
    That no one else will have.
    The old gray rocks so friendly seem,
    So durable and brave.

    In tranquil contemplation
    It watches through the year,
    Seeing the frosty stars arise,
    The slender moons appear.

    Its music is the rain-wind,
    Its choristers the birds,
    And there are secrets in its heart
    Too wonderful for words.

    It keeps the bright-eyed creatures
    That play about its walls,
    Though long ago its milking herds
    Were banished from their stalls.

    Only the children come there,
    For buttercups in May,
    Or nuts in autumn, where it lies
    Dreaming the hours away.

    Long since its strength was given
    To making good increase,
    And now its soul is turned again
    To beauty and to peace.

    There in the early springtime
    The violets are blue,
    And adder-tongues in coats of gold
    Are garmented anew.

    There bayberry and aster
    Are crowded on its floors,
    When marching summer halts to praise
    The Lord of Out-of-doors.

    And there October passes
    In gorgeous livery, —
    In purple ash, and crimson oak,
    And golden tulip tree.

    And when the winds of winter
    Their bugle blasts begin,
    The snowy hosts of heaven arrive
    And pitch their tents therein.

  6. The Old Gray Wall

    by Bliss Carman

    Time out of mind I have stood
    Fronting the frost and the sun,
    That the dream of the world might endure,
    And the goodly will be done.

    Did the hand of the builder guess,
    As he laid me stone by stone,
    A heart in the granite lurked,
    Patient and fond as his own?

    Lovers have leaned on me
    Under the summer moon,
    And mowers laughed in my shade
    In the harvest heat at noon.

    Children roving the fields
    With early flowers in spring,
    Old men turning to look,
    When they heard a bluebird sing,

    Have seen me a thousand times
    Standing here in the sun,
    Yet never a moment dreamed
    Whose likeness they gazed upon.

    Ah, when will ye understand,
    Mortals who strive and plod, —
    Who rests on this old gray wall
    Lays a hand on the shoulder of God!

  7. The Rock in the Sea

    by Henry Ames Blood

    They say that yonder rock once towered
    Upon a wide and grassy plain,
    Lord of the land, until the sea
    Usurped his green domain:
    Yet now remembering the fair scene
    Where once he reigned without endeavor,
    The great rock in the ocean stands
    And battles with the waves for ever.

    How oft, O rock, must visit thee
    Sweet visions of the ancient calm.
    All amorous with birds and bees,
    And odorous with balm!
    Ah me, the terrors of the time
    When the grim, wrinkled sea advances,
    And winds and waves with direful cries
    Arouse thee from thy happy trances!

    To no soft tryst they waken thee,
    No sunny scene of perfect rest,
    But to the raging sea's vanguard
    Thundering against thy breast:
    No singing birds are round thee now,
    But the wild wind, the roaring surges,
    And gladly would they hurl thee down
    And mock thee in eternal dirges.

    But be it thine to conquer them;
    And may thy firm enduring form
    Still frown upon the hurricane,
    Still grandly front the storm:
    And while the tall ships come and go,
    And come and go the generations,
    May thy proud presence yet remain
    A wonder unto all the nations.

    Sometime, perchance, O lonely rock,
    Thou may'st regain thine ancient seat,
    May'st see once more the meadow shine,
    And hear the pasture bleat:
    But ah, methinks even then thy breast
    Would stir and yearn with fond emotion,
    To meet once more in glorious war
    The roaring cohorts of the ocean.

  8. The Rock and the Sand

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Long-lined, the foaming chargers of the sea
    Press onward in the sun, a glittering host,
    Tossing their plumes and breathing angrily.
    Long-lined, a seething ocean at their backs,
    They dash against the rocks. The flying spray
    Is like the smoke of battle, and the spume
    Is like the froth of men and beasts at bay,
    Driven to desperate daring. On and on
    The long attack is urged, and endlessly.

    Forever and forever, 'neath the moon
    That coldly views the onset; through the day
    As wheels the steady sun; in winter's blast
    And summer's brilliant burning,—still the clash
    Of angry waves upon the stolid rock,
    And still they fall defeated back again,
    And still the silent granite fronts the sea.

    Thus youth confronts the universe, his head
    Hold haughtily against the surge of fate,
    Ever defiant of the elements,
    Of time, or man, or death, or God Himself;
    Thus youth, in fancied power, in the pride
    Of ignorant inertness.

    Wiser they,
    The waves that know no victory, but still
    Acknowiedge no defeat. Unceasingly
    They ply their warfare, happy if a grain,
    A single grain of all the granite mass
    Is theirs for plunder at the weary end
    Of twelve months' battering; for so at last,
    Indubitably so, the rock is theirs,
    Its haughty head at level with the tide,
    Its massive battlements a drift of sand.

    And this I learn, now that my youth is gone.
    Ah, this I learn, and how beneath the yoke.
    God's waves are over me, and all my pride
    Is scattered grain by grain along the beach,
    Or swallowed in the caverns of the sea.

    But be it so; yes, beaten like the sand;
    Yes, spread abroad for all the winds to toss
    And the wide ocean to make sport withal,
    So be it; I am victor even yet.
    For where the rock was black, the sand is white;
    And where the rock was sullen, how the sun
    Sparkles upon the facets of the sand!
    And where the rock was lonely, children now
    Play merrily upon the sand's delights;
    And where the rock was shaken with shock
    Of constant battle, in the blessed peace
    Of all the bending heavens now the sand
    Lies glad and humble. It is better so;
    For youth is strong, but age is stronger still,
    Strong with the power of the sea itself,
    Pliant beneath the guiding hand of God.

  9. The Dream Rock

    by Ruby Archer

    Amid a rushing mountain stream
    A giant boulder stands.
    Bright gems of mica o'er it gleam,
    And on its breast I love to dream
    With mosses in my hands.

    The hours flow softly o'er my soul,
    More light and swift than foam;
    And while the ceaseless torrents roll,
    Wild fancies rise from stream and knoll,
    And elfin through my vision roam.

    They are so fair, and yet so fleet,
    I cannot hold their garments fine.
    They fade while yet I cry, "Stay, Sweet!"
    A farewell glance is all I meet—
    An archly murmured, "Not yet thine!"

  10. The Old Stone Quarry

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    Grown with grass and with tangled weeds,
    Where the blind mole hides and the rabbit feeds,
    And, unmolested, the serpent breeds.

    Edged with underwood, newly grown,
    Draped with the cloak that the years have thrown
    Round the broken gaps in the jagged stone.

    It was opened—I know not how long ago—
    Opened, and left half-worked, and so
    In this ragged hollow the rank weeds grow.

    Why lies it idle, this beautiful stone?
    Ho, for the pickaxe! One by one
    Hew out these blocks—here is work undone.

    There are possible towers in this serpent's den—
    Possible homes for homeless men.
    Who shall build them? and where? and when?

    Must they lie here still, unmarked, unsought—
    Turrets and temples, uncarved, unwrought,
    Till the end of time? 'Tis a sorrowful thought!

    All through the heats of the summer hours,
    The wild bee hums in the unplucked flowers
    That creep and bloom over unbuilt towers.

    As I sit here, perched on the grass-grown wall,
    Down to the hollow the brown leaves fall,
    Little by little covering all.

    So month after month, and year after year,
    The rank weeds creep and the leaves turn sere.
    And a thicker mantle is weaving here.

    And a day may come when the passer-by,
    Threading the underwood, then grown high,
    Shall see but a hollow, where dead leaves lie.

    There are human souls that seem to me
    Like this unwrought stone—for all you see—
    Is a shapeless quarry of what might be,

    Lying idle, and overgrown
    With tangled weeds, like this beautiful stone—
    Possible work left undone,
    Possible victories left unwon.

    And that is a waste that is worse than this;
    Sharper the edge of the hidden abyss,
    Deadlier serpents crawl and hiss.

    And a day shall come when the desolate scene,
    Though scanned by eyes that are close and keen,
    Shall show no trace of its "might have been."

  11. Pebbles

    by Frank Dempster Sherman

    Out of a pellucid brook
    Pebbles round and smooth I took;
    Like a jewel, every one
    Caught a color from the sun, —
    Ruby red and sapphire blue,
    Emerald and onyx too,
    Diamond and amethyst, —
    Not a precious stone I missed;
    Gems I held from every land
    In the hollow of my hand.

    Workman Water these had made;
    Patiently through sun and shade,
    With the ripples of the rill
    He had polished them, until
    Smooth, symmetrical and bright,
    Each one sparkling in the light
    Showed within its burning heart
    All the lapidary’s art;
    And the brook seemed thus to sing:
    Patience conquers everything!

  12. At Stonehenge

    by Katharine Lee Bates

    Grim stones whose gray lips keep your secret well,
    Our hands that touch you touch an ancient terror,
    An ancient woe, colossal citadel
    Of some fierce faith, some heaven-affronting error.

    Rude-built, as if young Titans on this wold
    Once played with ponderous blocks a striding giant
    Had brought from oversea, till child more bold
    Tumbled their temple down with foot defiant.

    Upon your fatal altar Redbreast combs
    A fluttering plume, and flocks of eager swallows
    Dip fearlessly to choose their April homes
    Amid your crevices and storm-beat hollows.

    Even so in elemental mysteries,
    Portentous, vast, august, uncomprehended,
    Do we dispose our little lives for ease,
    By their unconscious courtesies befriended.

  13. Bald Head Cliff

    by Thaddeus Pomeroy Cressey

    The lone dark rock stands out against the sky;
    High o'er its summit white-winged sea birds sail,
    And fleck the azure ether as they fly
    Above the splendor of the mist-cloud veil.

    I've watched the weird, wild waves on swelling tide,
    That through the long perpetual ages
    Have climbed high up the lone cliff's rugged side,
    And carved thereon memorial pages.

    I've seen the white-plumed waves along the shore,
    Like warriors brave, advancing in a line,
    Dash high against the cliff with clash and roar,
    Though ineffectual on the cliff's incline.

    So mid the restless waves of passion braving,
    Calm-fronted, staunch, defiant may we be,
    And meet the foe's onset with banners waving,
    Unyielding, conquering, absolutely free.