Huge Vapours Brood above the Clifted Shore

By Charlotte Smith 1749–1806 Charlotte Smith
Huge vapours brood above the clifted shore,
Night o'er the ocean settles, dark and mute,
Save where is heard the repercussive roar
Of drowsy billows, on the rugged foot
Of rocks remote; or still more distant tone
Of seamen, in the anchored bark, that tell
The watch relieved; or one deep voice alone,
Singing the hour, and bidding "strike the bell."
All is black shadow, but the lucid line
Marked by the light surf on the level sand,
Or where afar, the ship-lights faintly shine
Like wandering fairy fires, that oft on land
Mislead the pilgrim; such the dubious ray
That wavering reason lends, in life's long darkling way.

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Charlotte Smith 1749–1806

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

 Charlotte  Smith

Biography

Charlotte Smith wrote Elegiac Sonnets in 1783 while she was in debtor’s prison with her husband and children. William Wordsworth identified her as an important influence on the Romantic movement. She published several longer works that celebrated the individual while deploring social injustice and the British class system.

Continue reading this biography

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.