‘Sonnet on Being Cautioned against Walking on a Headland’: A Poem by Charlotte Smith
‘Sonnet on Being Cautioned against Walking on a Headland’ is that rarest of things: a Gothic sonnet. This needn’t surprise when we bear in mind that the sonnet’s author, Charlotte Turner Smith (1749-1806), was associated with English Romanticism and was also a key figure in the revival of the English sonnet.
Sonnet on Being Cautioned against Walking on a Headland
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.
If you enjoyed ‘Sonnet on Being Cautioned against Walking on a Headland’, you might also enjoy our pick of the best poems from English Romanticism.