Carberiae Rupes (The Rocks of Carbery)


Ecce ingens fragmen scopuli, quod vertice summo

Desuper impendet, nullo fundamine nixum,

Decidit in fluctus:  maria undique et undique saxa

Horrisono stridore tenant, et ad aethera murmur

Erigitur; trepidatque suis Neptunus in undis.

Nam, longa venti rabie, atque aspergine crebra

Aequorei laticis, specus ima rupe cavatur:

Jam fultura ruit, jam summa cacumina nutant;

Jam cadit in praeceps moles, et verberat undas.

Attonitus credas, hinc dejecisse Tonantem

Montibus impositos montes, et Pelion altum

In capita anguipedum coelo jaculasse gigantum.

Saepe etiam spelunca immani aperitur hiatu

Exesa e scopulis, et utrinque foramina pandit,

Hinc atque hinc a ponto ad pontum pervia Phoebo

Cautibus enorme junctis laquearia tecti

Formantur; moles olim ruitura superne.

Fornice sublimi nidos posuere palumbes,

Inque imo stagni posuere cubilia phocae.

Sed, cum saevit hyems, et venti, carcere rupto,

Immensos volvunt fluctus ad culmina montis;

Non obsessae arces, non fulmina vindice dextra

Missa Jovis, quoties inimicus saevit in urbes,

Exaequant sonitum undarum, veniente procella:

Littora littoribus reboant; vicinia late,

Gens assueta mari, et pedibus percurrere rupes,

Terretur tamen, et longe fugit, arva relinquens.

Gramina dum carpunt pendentes rupe capellae,

Vi salientis aquae de summo praecipitantur,

Et dulces animas imo sub gurgite linquunt.

Piscator terra non audet vellere funem;

Sed latet in portu tremebundus, et aera sudum

Haud sperans, Nereum precibus votisque fatigat.


Written by Dean Jonathan Swift on a holiday in Rock Cottage, Co. Cork, in June 1723.



Lo! from the top of yonder cliff, that shrouds

Its airy head amid the azure clouds,

Hangs a huge fragment; destitute of props,

Prone on the wave the rocky ruin drops;

With hoarse rebuff the swelling seas rebound,

From shore to shore the rocks return the sound:

The dreadful murmur Heaven’s high convex cleaves,

And Neptune shrinks beneath his subject waves:

For, long the whirling winds and beating tides

Had scoop’d a vault into its nether sides.

Now yields the base, the summits nod, now urge

Their headlong course, and lash the sounding surge.

Not louder noise could shake the guilty world,

When Jove heap’d mountains upon mountains hurl’d;

Retorting Pelion from his dread abode,

To crush Earth’s rebel sons beneath the load.

Oft too with hideous yawn the cavern wide

Presents an orifice on either side.

A dismal orifice, from sea to sea

Extended, pervious to the God of Day:

Uncouthly join’d, the rocks stupendous form

An arch, the ruin of a future storm:

High on the cliff their nests the woodquests make,

And sea-calves stable in the oozy lake.

But when bleak Winter with his sullen train

Awakes the winds to vex the watery plain;

When o’er the craggy steep without control,

Big with the blast, the raging billows roll;

Not towns beleaguer’d, not the flaming brand,

Darted from Heaven by Jove’s avenging hand,

Oft as on impious men his wrath he pours,

Humbles their pride and blasts their gilded towers,

Equal the tumult of this wild uproar:

Waves rush o’er waves, rebellows shore to shore.

The neighbouring race, though wont to brave the shocks

Of angry seas, and run along the rocks,

Now, pale with terror, while the ocean foams,

Fly far and wide, nor trust their native homes.

The goats, while, pendent from the mountain top,

The wither’d herb improvident they crop,

Wash’d down the precipice with sudden sweep,

Leave their sweet lives beneath th’unfathom’d deep.

The frighted fisher, with desponding eyes,

Though safe, yet trembling in the harbour lies,

Nor hoping to behold the skies serene,

Wearies with vows the monarch of the main.

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