Round about the Round-O 1880. Arbroath's yesteryear in print

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POEM - 012
'The Bell Rock'
John Sim Sands


OH TOWER ! that rear'st thy crest so high,
That from the sea shoot'st to the sky,
Bright tower that guid'st the sailor's bark
Past hidden shoals and dangers dark,
Gigantic pillar of the sea,
How beauteous is thy form to me!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tower, that on high erect'st thy crest,
What strange emotions fill the breast,
As o'er the calm unruffled sea
We bend the sail and pull for thee !
Summer around us blooming gay,
And life's short summer sweet as May ;
Behind, the world and all her din,
Repose without, content within.
And as we close and closer steer,
And as thy pillar bright draws near,
What joy, amazement, wonder, fear,
Our spirits damp, our spirits cheer!
Till at thy base, our destined goal,
Rapture complete o'erwhelms the soul,
And each exclaims in ecstasy,
'How beauteous is thy form to me!'
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

But now we leave the placid deep,
And mount thy ladder smooth and steep.
The polished floor, the splendid stair,
Hall, rooms, and library rare,
Wonder on wonder everywhere !
All these we view ; then mount on high,
Till in thy glass-cased canopy
We stand 'mid sky and ether blue,
The wide horizon ope'd to view.
Before our eyes, in distance seen,
The Lothians decked in summer green,
The Frith of Forth, the Isle of May,
The coast of Fife, St. Andrews Bay.
Then, stretching far into the right,
The Grampians high come next in sight ;
And, sloping down from hill to sea,
The winding Tay, the dull Dundee.
And to the right, on farther still,
Barry's red sands, and Conon Hill,
Famed Aberbrothock's Abbey grey,
The bold Redhead and Lunan Bay,
And each tall cliff, and mountain green,
From Bervie Brow to Aberdeen.
Stranger, sail to farthest Ind,
A scene like this thou shalt not find :
O tower ! that rear'st thy crest so free,
How beauteous is thy form to me !
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Cast now thine eye on either side,
On the expanse of water wide :
See the frail bark, borne by the tide,
Close by the rock securely glide,
The well-rigged ship, the feeble yawl,
The fishing smack, the frigate tall,
The pleasure boat impelled by steam,
The cutter bright, whose pennants stream
From vane to stern in gaudy guise,—
Each on her journey safely hies.
Turn yet again thy wondering eyes
From sea and shore to cloudless skies ;
And, as on high thou turn'st thy view,
'Screams round thy head the white sea-mew,'
Or float around in midway air
The sable scart and plover fair ;
Or dottrels, weary of their flight,
From foreign shores see here alight.
Look to the rock below, and tell
If this be not some magic spell,
A scene of fairy land and sea,
That has not been, and may not be :
Beneath thy foot, in wanton play,
The gull and coot float slow away ;

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And calm, as on an inland lake,
Securely swims the kittywake.
Upon the rock the lazy seal
Lies stretched beside the duck and teal ;
The marrots light the billows fan,
Regardless of the sight of man.
Oh, all around's repose and bliss !
Stranger, e'er saw ye scene like this ?—
Unrivalled or on sea or land,
Sublimely calm and richly grand !
A scene, seek earth's extremest bound,
That far or near ne'er can be found.
Gigantic pillar of the sea,
How beauteous is thy form to me!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

But summer's gone, and changed's the scene,—
Each grace is fled, each view serene ;
And now, as at the close of life,
The elements in all their strife
Break like a huge tornado on
That spot of bliss we trod upon.
Dread winter comes in awful form,
And whistles round thy crest the storm ;
The lightnings flash, the thunders roar,
The mighty waves from Denmark's shore
Upon thy base all strike and break,
And all thy fabric seem to shake ;
The arch of heaven, the depths of death
Seem joined to whelm thee underneath.
Lost in the mist to human eye
By breakers white and stormy sky,—
Engulphed amid the mighty sea
Thy tower and rock appear to be.
Thy inmates, hardy as the oak,
Seemed lost amid the mighty shock,
And black as midnight rolls afar
Death and Destruction's ruthless car.
In this dread hour of doubt and fear,
'Mid desolation dark and drear,
The day-star sets, night's curtain drops :
Where, mariner, now rest thy hopes ?
In this sad hour of death and fear,
Where, sailor, now ? ah, whither steer ?
Rocks are before thee, turn and flee !
Breakers of death are on thy lee !
Where is thy guide ? That pillar bright,
That sentinel that guards the night.
Without that light, ah ! whither fly ?
Without that star, despair, and die !
It comes ! it comes ! o'er sea and hill,
'Mid desolation beauteous still !
O'er the horizon, wide and far,
Resplendent shines that beauteous star !
It flies !—but for a moment fled ;
See ! see, it comes a star of red,
Light'ning, with its crimson glare,
Rock, sea, and hill, and pillar fair !
Steer, mariner, in safety steer
Thy goodly craft, nor danger fear ;
That polar star shall be thy guide
'Mid the expanse of ocean wide :
Quicksands, and rocks, and breakers drear,
And hidden shoals thou need'st not fear :
Grasp, grasp thy tiller—on thy lee
Albeit though rocks and breakers be !
O tower, that rear'st thy crest so bright,
How beauteous is thy guardian light!

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