2.3 The Inchcape Rock –
Appreciation of the poem
The poem “The Inchcape Rock” is written by Robert Southey. The poem is a ballad means a narrative poem. It contains total 17 stanzas of four lines each. The poem is written using minimal words & has a wonderful rhyme & rhythm. Picturesque description adds to the beauty of the poem. Eg- ‘green ocean’, ‘light waves’, ‘birds wheeling’ etc.
The poem is based on the 14th century story of the wicked Sir Ralph, the Rover- a sea-pirate who removed the warning bell from the Inchcape Rock installed by the Abbot of Aberbrothok. But on his return journey, in bad weather his own ship collided with the same Rock as there was no warning sound of the bell. The theme of the poem is that ‘if you dig a pit for others, you are bound to fall into it.’ There is poetic justice in the end.
The rhyme scheme of the poem is aabb. Poetic devices such as Alliteration, Antithesis, Apostrophe, Inversion, Metaphor, Onomatopoeia, Personification, Repetition, are effectively used. The sonorous name of Aberbrothok comes almost four times. The poet has used Symbolism, to present the good & the evil. The Abbot of Aberbrothok represents the Good whereas Sir Ralph, the Rover is the symbol of Evil.
The message of the poem is universal. It is a didactic poem -a poem with a moral theme. If one does anything bad, he will be definitely punished. As you sow, so shall you reap.
I like the poem for its timeless relevance. It is a poem of all times. Good versus bad is an eternal dominant conflict.