Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel

(1834-1894 / England)

The Call Of The Caves - Poem by Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel

We allure you, lo! we call
Into our storm-moulded hall,
Where the emerald water-pulse
Moves the laver and the dulse,
Where swim cloud-white living gems
Of dream-born form; jade, amber stems
Bud living flowers; we liberal fling
Live jewels o'er drowned queen and king,
While the haughty heads of them
With some consuming diadem
Of clinging life we crown; white limbs
Our oozy robe corroding dims;
Ship timbers jammed between great stones
Are mixed with fish-peeled human bones;
Grotesque mailed creatures sidle athwart
From some dark cranny of their fort.
Here the yellow sands are silting
Over lips how lately lilting,
Here the shadowy waters moving
Over hearts how lately loving!
Our lilac and our purple dye,
Our shelly incrustations vie
With gold embossed, rich broidery,
Fair spoil washed here from precious freight
Of that fair ship which bore the state
Of royal pilgrim, guard and priest,
Journeying to a marriage feast,
And here by winds and billows broken,
When the fatal word was spoken;
Where now in lordly isolation
Our waters, after devastation,
Wander with their wild, free voice,
Causing wild hearts to rejoice,
Wander through the lordly halls
Echoing their lone foot-falls,
Singing songs that charm and cheer,
Warbled for no mortal ear;
Yet if one surprise their scope,
He will be blessed beyond all hope.

Beyond the demon-guarded portal,
Fashioned by no hands of mortal,
Where towering monsters still as stone
Hear old ocean's monotone
Sound and resound for evermore,
Watch the restless entrance-floor
By rude purple rock roofed o'er,
Whose rippled surface-hues invoke
Memories of woodland smoke -
Beyond where twilit water reaches,
There be dim mysterious beaches,
Whence should put forth some elfin bark
To ferry pilgrims toward the dark
Under a storm-wrought architecture,
That fills the soul with strange conjecture,
Where a courage-conquering sound
Travels from the gulf profound,
Like muffled thunder murmureth,
As though some sea-god threatened death,
Drowsy-souled, with bated breath,
To whosoever dared intrude
Upon his awful solitude!
Here unhuman consciousnesses
Inhabit green sea-drowned recesses,
Clothed in a fantastic form,
Native to the realms of storm,
And ocean calm, the mystic deep,
Where many thrilling secrets sleep.
Come and swim, or wade, or float,
Bring the light, oar-dripping boat!
Here's rare fretwork, hued like wine,
More richly gemmed than storied shrine,
Or monstrance; clear piscina pool
With fairy lives made beautiful,
Finely frilled, and delicate tinted,
Or shyer beauties only hinted;
Here landwater ceaseth not
Dropping from the groined grot,
Whose tender fresh green ferns above
Look like a dream of virgin love.
We allure you, lo! we call
Into our storm-moulded hall;
Where the shadowy wave is still,
If you who are so weary will,
Crooning, we will rock to rest
In the twilight of our breast;
In sleep we would all ills disperse,
Crooning like some ancient nurse,
And dissolve the ancestral curse!

Yet there is one private gate,
Consecrate to royal state
Of ocean billows; there they dance
Buoyant under the sun's glance,
Clear-green, hilarious, in and out,
Foam-laughing, ever-fluctuant rout;
Fair traces of their blithe sweet feet
In heaved long floating lines you meet,
Long loose lines of silver foam
Round high rock-ramparts of their home;
O'er these faint shadows of the clouds
Slowly mount, like welcome shrouds;
Within the surges hold high revel,
All unaware of good or evil,
But what they do in that dim court
Is known to them who there resort,
And to none other; the rude arch,
Sacred to their sounding march,
So hewn as though the forked levin
Had been the norm for walls uneven,
Leans back upon the sheer grey crag,
Loud haunt of sea-bird, mer, and shag,
Or gulls that gleam in poised flight
About the grey cathedral height.
A herb-sown pentroof crowns the pile,
That doth the soaring eyes beguile
Aloft o'er what seems window vast,
Which Time, the old Iconoclast,
While the centuries rolled by,
Slow-fashioned there in irony
Of Gothic minster, Gothic creed,
Human worship, human need;
For there the wind sings all the psalms,
With the wave in storms and calms,
Whose congregations pouring in
Know nor penitence, nor sin;
There unseen they hold high revel,
No thralls to righteousness or evil.
Rich traceries on the cliff were wrought
By subtle hands with tempest fraught,
O'er that great Eastern front rust-red,
Grey or golden, high and dread,
Shagged with byssus like a beard,
Where the wild bird broods are reared,
Ere they assay their glorious flight
Round the blue-imbathed hoar height.
But that rude mimicry of fanes
The mocking mountain ill sustains,
With his huge protending flanks,
And the maned sea-surge in ranks
Chafing round his iron feet;
For such a part he's all unmeet!
Bastion, buttress, battered, bruised,
Spire with pinnacle confused
Were ne'er for human worship used;
Rough-hewn battlements and towers
Bewray the Elemental Powers!
Lawless, abrupt, their lines have nought
Of human; but the Genii wrought
Jamb, soffit, frieze, and architrave,
For giant porches of the wave.
The huge pile leans to view the sky,
And all his mighty lines awry
Reveal the mountain-irony;
So some huge Pagan, masked as priest
At a solemn Christian feast,
Might leer, and reel, disguise let fall;
Stand revealed a Bacchanal!

. . . Here a boy who sought a nest
Was laid by reverent hands to rest;
In winter he was prisoned here,
Away from all who held him dear,
By ravening waves the loud winds churn;
To humble home they barred return.
Though he and his with longing eye
One another could descry
Beyond the maniac revelry,
Of cold and drought they saw him die.
Surge batteries had availed to sever
By long, implacable endeavour
This arid isle from the mainland,
Save for one causeway; none might stand
There when it was tempest-swept,
And the wild billows o'er it leapt.

Still they allure me, still they call
Into their storm-moulded hall!

Comments about The Call Of The Caves by Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel

There is no comment submitted by members..

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

[Report Error]