On Some Primeval Shore
No soul sees:
The sun is hot, the water’s warm,
No children laugh, no joggers run;
On sandy beach no footprints are left;
No bathers splash, no sea-gull’s cry, not one
No humans observe:
Torrents of water from far-distant mountains
Through alpine ravine with slopes of scree,
With fragments of tree-fern and coarse sandy grit –
Now sluggish and slow and dropped out to sea.
No person hears:
A rumble of thunder across the strand;
Raindrops spot the beach before the tide
Now spreads its mud across the sand,
And wavelets with silt the ripples hide.
“Sir”, he cries, “that boulder, on the shore! ”
The students they watch as chisel strikes the block
The fissile gritstone begins to crack; “more! ”
They cry; it splits, they stare, “see, the rock……..”
No sitting in class, no passage in book, I swear,
Can grip the mind and so amaze
As now the sight on which the pupils stare -
A hidden revelation as pupils gaze.
Their minds now thrill at what’s before,
Gritstone is split; a gasp of breath:
A scene revealed - a sandy shore:
Ripples in the sand and a shower that passed.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
The title refers to the formation of the Upper Lias (Jurassic) deltaic sandstones of Whitby (Yorkshire, Northern England) some 170 million years ago.
As the tide advances the wavelets spread mud into the rain-spots and, as time passes, preserves these as the whole area subsides over hundreds of thousands of years in a geosyncline and the sand becomes gritstone.
The second section refers to a field trip of Haberdashers’ sixth-form students to Whitby in 1963.
Comments about this poem (On Some Primeval Shore by Brian P FitzGerald )
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