The Severers


I N a crease of the forehead of Antrim, where Time has written on stone
The tale of the endless debate of the obstinate land and sea —
Those heirs of magnificent discord, that just for a season agree
To compose their thunderous quarrel, but ever at heart are prone
To harp on it night and day in a moody undertone,
And presently mutter a word that is dark with wrath and bale,
And rouse from counterfeit sleep their fell vendetta, and so
Return to the naked hate they were born in long ago,
Reopen the wrangle of ages, resume the dear dispute,
The controversy eternal that bears but death for fruit,
As well from of old these haughty, implacable brawlers know; —
In a crease of the forehead of Antrim, where Time has written that tale,
I have found me a place that surely is musing on ancient woe,
And remembers in dreams the tread of the midnight foot of Doom:
A place where even the candours of noon seem sinister things:
And there I have heard the ocean recitative roll and boom,
The monotonous ocean soliloquy rumble morose and low;
The obscure beginnings of storm, like a rustle of huddled wings;
The stroke of the great sea-hammer, awaking with blow on blow
In the cavernous land such outcry as iron from iron wrings;
The clang of the shock of the waters that butted with taurine roar
Against fallen Dunseveric, once the abode of vengeful Kings;
And the blind, mad panic in heaven when eastward the hurricane tore
By the marge where lorn Templastra dejected ponders, and o'er
That fantasy, wild Ballintoy, on the steeps in the lee of Bengore.


The Earth is watching and brooding; the skies are empty of speech.
I will learn, of whatever is wordless, whatever it has to teach.
The spent tide flags and recoils. Like gifts unused and waste
Is the many-tinted seaweed that strews the Atlantic beach.
I will climb the track to westward, where bards of old have paced,
Whose songs are asleep by cromlech and menhir and haunted mound.
I will follow the path that leads to the Way of the Giants, around
By the Amphitheatre vast, with its tiers of cliff, where rise
The column'd shafts of basalt like organ-pipes to the skies,
Outrolling a fugal silence, involved, impassioned, profound.
'Tis the path that gropes and crawls on the lean rock's wasted side,
Where nightly the Giant's Loom by invisible hands is plied.
And east and west are the caverns, their dark roofs arched and groined,
The chambers and vaulted dungeons and monstrous crypts of the sea:
And pillars, fallen and prostrate, from mighty fa├ºades disjoined —
Released, but in utter abjection, unbound, but vainly free;
And desolate ruined holds of many a chief and King;
And the mastersong of disunion that earth and ocean sing;
And large and bold on the headlands the manuscript of Time;
And coiled with the roots of the world, where Life thrusts up like a tree,
The Powers that rive and sunder, unmoved by appeal or plea;
The Powers that shatter with discord what else were a golden chime;
The Estranging Ones, the dividers, the hewers in twain from the prime;
The Unmakers and Destroyers, whatever their names may be.
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