Interfusing Living and Nonliving in Charlotte Smith’s “Beachy Head”

  title={Interfusing Living and Nonliving in Charlotte Smith’s “Beachy Head”},
  author={Anne Wallace},
  journal={The Wordsworth Circle},
  pages={1 - 19}
  • Anne Wallace
  • Published 1 January 2019
  • Art
  • The Wordsworth Circle
Charlotte Smith’s “Beachy Head,” the title poem of her posthumously published 1807 collection, closes with the death of “the hermit of the rocks,” an account famously riddled with indeterminacies. Not the least of these is the question of whether the hermit’s body is finally buried within, actually inside, Beachy Head’s sea cliff, as the hermit himself had interred drowned mariners washed up on the shore near his “flintsurrounded home” (686). Granting this irresolution, the hermit’s tale… 
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This common phrase is alluded to in the poem's much earlier description of pearls as "toys of Nature, and her sport / Of little estimate in Reason's eye