Skip to main content
By Charlotte Smith

Is there a solitary wretch who hies

   To the tall cliff, with starting pace or slow,

And, measuring, views with wild and hollow eyes

   Its distance from the waves that chide below;

Who, as the sea-born gale with frequent sighs

   Chills his cold bed upon the mountain turf,

With hoarse, half-uttered lamentation, lies

   Murmuring responses to the dashing surf?

In moody sadness, on the giddy brink,

   I see him more with envy than with fear;

He has no nice felicities that shrink

   From giant horrors; wildly wandering here,

He seems (uncursed with reason) not to know

The depth or the duration of his woe.


Source: The Longman Anthology of Poetry (Pearson, 2006)

Poet Bio

Charlotte Smith wrote Elegiac Sonnets in 1783 while she was in debtor’s prison with her husband and children. William Wordsworth identified her as an important influence on the Romantic movement. She published several longer works that celebrated the individual while deploring social injustice and the British class system.

More By This Poet

More Poems about Living

Browse poems about Living

More Poems about Social Commentaries

Browse poems about Social Commentaries