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Cornish Cliffs

 Those moments, tasted once and never done,
Of long surf breaking in the mid-day sun.
A far-off blow-hole booming like a gun- The seagulls plane and circle out of sight Below this thirsty, thrift-encrusted height, The veined sea-campion buds burst into white And gorse turns tawny orange, seen beside Pale drifts of primroses cascading wide To where the slate falls sheer into the tide.
More than in gardened Surrey, nature spills A wealth of heather, kidney-vetch and squills Over these long-defended Cornish hills.
A gun-emplacement of the latest war Looks older than the hill fort built before Saxon or Norman headed for the shore.
And in the shadowless, unclouded glare Deep blue above us fades to whiteness where A misty sea-line meets the wash of air.
Nut-smell of gorse and honey-smell of ling Waft out to sea the freshness of the spring On sunny shallows, green and whispering.
The wideness which the lark-song gives the sky Shrinks at the clang of sea-birds sailing by Whose notes are tuned to days when seas are high.
From today's calm, the lane's enclosing green Leads inland to a usual Cornish scene- Slate cottages with sycamore between, Small fields and tellymasts and wires and poles With, as the everlasting ocean rolls, Two chapels built for half a hundred souls.

Poem by John Betjeman
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