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Merrily, merrily goes the bark,
On a breeze from the northward free, So shoots through the morning sky the lark,
Or the swan through the summer sea.
Merrily, merrily, goes the bark,
Before the gale she bounds;
So flies the dolphin from the shark,
Or the deer before the hounds.
No stir in the air, no stir in the sea,
The ship was still as she might be ;
Her sails from heaven received no motion -
Her keel was steady in the ocean.
Without either sign or sound of their shock,
The waves flowed over the Inchcape Rock;
So little they rose, so little they fell,
They did not move the Inchcape Bell.
The holy abbot of Aberbrothok
Had floated that bell on the Inchcape Rock ;
On the waves of the storm it floated and swung,
And louder and louder its warning rung.
When the rock was hid by the tempest's swell,
The mariners heard the warning bell;
And then they knew the perilous Rock,
And bless'd the priest of Aberbrothok.
The sun in heaven shone so gay-
All things were joyful on that day:
The sea-birds scream'd as they sported round,
And there was pleasure in their sound.
The float of the Inchcape Bell was seen,
A darker speck on the ocean green;
Sir Ralph the Rover walk'd his deck,
And he fix'd his eye on the darker speck.
He felt the cheering power of Spring,
It made him whistle, it made him sing;
His heart was mirthful to excess —
But the Rover's mirth was wickedness.
His eye was on the bell and float —
Quoth he, my men, pull out the boat,
And row me to the Inchcape Rock,
And I'll plague the priest of Aberbrothok.
The boat is lowered, the boatmen row,
And to the Inchcape Rock they go ;
Sir Ralph bent over from the boat,
And cut the warning bell from the float.
Down sunk the bell with a gurgling sound;
The bubbles rose, and burst aground.
Quoth Sir Ralph, the next who comes to the Rock
Will not bless the priest of Aberbrothok.
Sir Ralph the Rover sail'd away;
He scour'd the seas for many a day;
And now, grown rich with plunder'd store,
He steers his course to Scotland's shore.
So thick a haze o'erspreads the sky,
They could not see the sun on high;
The wind hath blown a gale all day;
At evening it hath died away.
On the deck the Rover takes his stand ;
So dark it is, they see no land;
Quoth Sir Ralph, it will be lighter soon,
For there is the dawn of the rising moon.
Canst hear, said one, the breakers roar?
For yonder, methinks, should be the shore.
Now where we are I cannot tell,
But I wish we could hear the Inchcape Bell.
They hear no sound, the swell is strong,
Though the wind hath fallen they drift along,
Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock -
Oh, Christ ! it is the Inchcape Rock!
See how yon flaming herald treads
The ridged and rolling waves,
As, crashing o'er their crested heads,
She bows her surly slaves.
With foam before and fire behind,
She rends the clinging sea
That flies before the roaring wind,
Beneath her hissing lee.
The morning spray, like sea-born flowers,
With heaped and glistening bells, Falls round her fast, in ringing showers,
With every wave that swells ;
And flaming o'er the midnight deep,
In lurid fringes thrown,
The living gems of ocean sweep
Along her flashing zone.
With clashing wheel and lifting keel,
And smoking torch on high,
When winds are loud and billows reel,
She thunders foaming by;
When seas are silent and serene,
With even beam she glides, The sunshine glimmering through the green,
That skirts her gleaming sides.
Now like a wild nymph, far apart,
She veils her shadowy form, The beating of her restless heart
Still sounding through the storm ;-
Now answers, like a courtly dame,
The reddening surges o’er,
With flying scarf of spangled flame
The Pharos of the shore.
To-night yon pilot shall not sleep
Who trims his narrowed sail,
To-night yon frigate scarce can keep
Her broad breast to the gale ;
And many a foresail, scooped and strained,
Shall break from yard and stay, Before this smoky wreath has stained
The rising mist of day.
Hark, hark, I hear yon whistling shroud,
I see yon quivering mast;
The black throat of the hunted cloud
Is panting forth the blast!
An hour, and whirled like winnowing chaff,
The giant surge shall fling
His tresses o'er yon pennon-staff,
White as the sea-bird's wing !