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The Inchcape Rock

The Inchcape Rock– See more information

TitleThe Inchcape Rock

Inchcape Rock is a legend, a reef which is situated in the North Sea, close to the coastal region of Angus in Scotland. The poem is based on the series of events that took place around the dangerous rocks of the east coast of Scotland.

Writer: Robert Southey-

He was born in Bristol, England. He was the son of a draper, educated at Westminster School and Balliol College, Oxford. He was a Poet Laureate of England from 1813 to 1843. Some of his short poems like ‘The Scholar’. ‘The Battle of Blenheim’, ‘Bishop Hatto’, ‘The Inchcape Rock’ etc. are  very popular with  the school children.

The Poem: ‘The Inchcape Rock

It is a ballad. It’s the story of the 14th century. It is the attempt by the Abbot of Aberbrothok to install a warning bell on Inchcape. It is a notorious sandstone reef about 18 km off the east coast of Angus, Scotland, near Dundee and Fife. It is occupied by the Bell Rock Lighthouse.

Story of the poem:

The story is based on the legendary story of a pirate. He removed the bell on the Inchcape Rock placed by the Abbot of Aberbrothok.

The poem begins on a calm note. The waves were flowing over the inchcape rock without any impact. The Abbot of Aberbrothok had placed a bell on the Inchcape Rocks to warn the sailor about the perilous rocks. Sellers got benefit of this bell so they praised the Abbot. When the sea pirate Ralph saw the bell, he felt jealous of the Abbot’s popularity and praise. So he decided to cut the bell. He asked his men to sail him to the bell. He cut off the rope of the bell and the bell went down with a gurgling sound.

The Ralph moved on and after plundering the Ships, was returning to his land. Suddenly the weather was getting worse. Thick haze covered the sky. A violent storm began to blow. Nothing was visible due to bad weather. But the Ralph was sure that the weather would soon improve. The Sailor wished they could hear the Inchcape Bell. But as it was already cut down, they didn’t hear any sound. At last the ship collided with the Inchacpe rock and drowned along with all his sailors. But even in his dying fear, one thing the Ralph could hear. It’s the sound of the gurgling bell. In fact it was the devil below who was ringing his knell.

ही कथा समुद्री चाच्यांच्या पौराणिक कथेवर आधारित आहे.

कविता वातावरणाचा शांतपणा दाखवत सुरू होते. समुद्राच्या लाटा इंचकेप खडकावर कोणताही आघात न होता वाहत होत्या. एबरब्रोथोकच्या मठाधिपतीने खलाशांना या धोकादायक खडकाबद्दल सावध करण्यासाठी तेथे (इंचकेप खडकावर) एक घंटा ठेवली होती. या घंटेचा फायदा खलाश्यांना होत होता म्हणून ते नेहमी मठाधिपतीचे कौतुक करत असत. जेव्हा समुद्री चाचा (लुटारू) राल्फने घंटा पाहिली तेव्हा त्याला मठाधिपतीच्या लोकप्रियतेचा आणि स्तुतीचा हेवा वाटला. त्यामुळे त्याने ती घंटा कापण्याचा निर्णय घेतला. त्याने आपल्या माणसांना त्या खडकाजवळ बोट नेण्यास सांगितले. जवळ जाऊन त्याने घंटेची दोरी कापली आणि आवाज करत घंटा खाली गेली.

राल्फ पुढे गेला आणि अनेक जहाजे लुटल्यानंतर तो आपल्या भूमीकडे परत यायला निघाला. अचानक हवामान खराब झाले. दाट धुक्याने आभाळ व्यापले होते. जोरदार वादळ वाहू लागले. खराब हवामानामुळे काहीच दिसत नव्हते. पण राल्फला वाटत होते की, हवामान लवकरच सुधारेल. खलाशांना भास होत होता की त्यांना इंचकेप घंटेचा आवाज ऐकू येत आहे. पण ती घंटा आधीच कापली गेली असल्याने त्यांना कोणताही आवाज ऐकू येणे शक्य नव्हते. शेवटी जहाज इंचकेप खडकावर आदळले आणि राल्फ सह सर्व खलाशी बुडाले. पण राल्फला मृत्यूच्या भीतीतही एक गोष्ट ऐकू येत होती. तो गुरगुरणाऱ्या घंटेचा आवाज होता. खरं तर जणू खाली असलेला सैतानच त्याची मृत्यू घंटा वाजवत होता.

Message of the poem:

The poem gives us a message that those who do wrong things will meet with due punishment.

Ice Breakers:

A) Word register related to marine life.

1) sailors             

2) fish                  

3) algae

4) crab                 

5) waves             

6) coast

7) ocean              

8) seashore         

9) species

10) salt water     

11) aquatic         

12) ship

13) icebergs        

14) sand              

15) reef

16) sea bird        

17) rock               

18) shells            

19) islands          

20) coral beaches

B) The functions of a lighthouse.

1) to show the direction
2) to serve as navigational aids / tool.
3) to warn ships about danger in the sea areas.
4) to show  proper direction during the storm.
5) to guide the sailors to reach the coast.
6) help ships to find their way across the sea.
7) to tell ships that they are nearing the port.
8) It is metaphorically beacon light to all who are frustrated by failures

C) The various famous rocks in the world and the places.

1) Balancing Rock – (Mahabalipuram)
2) Rock of Gibraltar – (Strait of Gibraltar, Mediterranean Sea)
3) Plymouth Rock – (shore of Plymouth, harbour)
4) Ayer’s Rock – Uluru (Australia)
5) Black stone-Mecca (Saudi Arabia)
6) Split Apple Rock-(New Zealand)
7) Old Harry Rock-(England)
8) Balancing Rock-(Canada)
9) Wave Rock – (USA)
10) Nanya Rock- (Taiwan)

D) Discuss the following expressions.

(a) As you sow so shall you reap


This means that if you do bad things to people, bad things will happen to you, or if you do good things, good things will happen to you. The way you behave in life will affect the treatment you will receive from others.

(b) Crime gets its own punishment


A punishment is a penalty imposed on somebody who is convicted of a crime. A punishment could be, for example, time in prison or a fine. Every crime gets punishment in the course of time.

(c) What goes around comes around


The consequences of one’s actions will have to be dealt with eventually. If someone treats other people badly he or she will eventually be treated badly by someone else. So the meaning of this phrase is, whatever you do to others, you will get in return

(d) Tit for tat


‘Tit for tat’ is giving back as much as you got, especially in retaliation for something harmful. A tit-for-tat action is one where someone takes revenge on another person for what they have done by doing something similar to them.

(e) Evil digs a pit for others but falls into the same


It means that the people with bad mentality do some bad thing in order to harm others but at last due to their bad deeds they themselves got bad effect on themselves. If you set a trap for others, you will get caught in it yourself. 

Stanzas – 01 to 04

Guess the meaning of-

Stir-swirl, whirl, rotate (here movement)

Still (adj)– here, not moving , steady, silent, quiet, calm, stable etc.

Sails- canvas used for mast , strong sheet of fabric attached to a boat.

Keel – base or bottom of ship

Motion –movement

Steady — stable

Shock – blow, jolt, stunned, unpleasant event

Buoy – floater, drifter, floating object anchored in the sea

Swing (Swung) – swayed, waved

Ring (Rung)-sounded, call for attention by sounding a bell

Mariner-sailor, seamenAbbot– head of Abbey of monks

Abbey– a building where monks or nuns live or used to live

Aberbrothok- largest town in Scotland

Surge’s swell–sudden and great rise in the level of the sea


blest–old English form of blessed

Stanza 05 to 08

New Words –

Joyance – (Poetic) joy, delight, enjoyment

gay- happy, light hearted and carefree

Wheel’s round– whirling over the sea, soaring

Joyance– screaming in joy, delight

Speck – dot, spot, point, mark

Sir Ralph the Rover – a sea pirate

Pirate- a person who attacks and Rob’s ships at the sea.

Deck – flooring of a ship, boarding place in a ship, the upper floor of the sea

The darker speck – here metaphorically used for the Inchcape Bell

Cheering – encouraging, motivating, soothing , delighted

Mirthful – joyful, merry, gleeful, overjoyed, amusing

Wickedness – evil, malice, badness, being immoral

Inchcape float – means the buoy (floater)

Quoth – archaic word for quoted (said/spoke)

Row – oared to, sailed to, rowing by oars in waters

Plague – torture, torment, cause trouble, kill, destroy

Spring- name of one of the seasons

float-a thing that is buoyant in water

Stanza 09 to 12


 past participle form of sink, submerged, go down

bubbling, make a hallow sound

apart suddenly and violently

(here) travelled freely, energetically for ships to rob

Plunder’d store
-big amount of looted/robbed wealth

 directs the course of the ship, guide

thin mist, fog

(an archaic word)has

 a very strong wind

Stanza no.13 to 17


dawn-(here)moon will appear, the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise

Canst-can, an archaic word for you can

breakers-(here) heavy sea waves

Methinks- it seems to me (archaic form of ‘I think’)

Swell- (here) Tide

drift- move slowly, be carried slowly by a current of air or water

Vessel- large boat, ship

Strikes-hits forcibly

tore- pulled hard

despair- frustration, absence of hope

beneath- under

dreadful- extremely bad or serious

Devil- the supreme spirit of evil, Satan, demon

Knell-the sound of a bell solemnly after death or at funeral announcement of death

Paraphrase of the poem- The Inchcape Rock

Paraphrase – stanza 01 to 04

The atmosphere was calm and motionless. There was lack of movement in the air and in the sea. There was no force for the sails (cloth of the mast) from the sky. It made the ship and the base of the ship motionless in the ocean. The sea waves were flowing without any jolt and had a little rise and fall over the Inchcape rock that they hardly moved the Inchcape bell. Abbot of Aberbrothok had installed the bell on a floater at the Inchcape Rock in such a way that it floated and swayed on the waves during storms and warned the mariners. The mariners admired the Abbot of Aberbrothok because in the high waves they would know the hazardous rock by the warning sound of the bell which saved their lives.

Paraphrase – stanza 05 to 08

The sun was shining happily in the sky. All creatures on the earth were very happy on that day. Sea-birds seemed very joyful while chirping and encircling in the sky. In the widespread green ocean, the floater of the Inchcape Bell was looking like a dark spot. When Sir Ralph the Rover boarded on the ship, he gazed at that dark floater. He felt encouraging by the spring which made him whistle and sing. Even though his heart was filled up with joy, there was malice in his joy. When he saw the Inchcape floater, he ordered his men to leave the port escort him to the Inchcape Rock where he wished to trouble the Abbot of Aberbrothok.

Paraphrase – stanza 09 to 12

The boatmen lower the boat and sail to the Inchcape Rock. When they reach there, Sir Ralph bent down from the boat and cut the rope of the Bell from the Inchcape floater. The Bell sank down in the deep water with a gushing sound and bubbles rose up and burst around. Then Sir Ralph said that the next who would come to the rock would not praise the Abbot of Aberbrothok. Sir Ralph the Rover sailed away in search of ships for many days and looted valuables on them and became rich.  Thereafter, he drove to Scotland’s shore. A thick fog spreads everywhere in the sky so hardly they can see sun on high. The wind has flowed very heavily all day and stopped at evening.

Paraphrase – (Stanza 13 to 17)

Sir Ralph the Rover stands on the deck very confidently. It was so dark that no one was able to see any land nearby. Then, Sir Ralph said that there would soon be some light as the moon was about to rise. One of them asked if they could hear the sound of the waves because he thought that they should be near the coast. He added that he could not tell them where they were and hoped that he could hear the Inchcape Bell.

The surge of waves is very high and they cannot hear any sound. Even though the wind has been very slow, they move forward towards till their ship crashes with a shaking jolt. Then one of them pleads Lord Christ and exclaims that it is the Inchcape Rock.

Sir Ralph the Rover was totally frustrated and cursed himself in disappointment. The waves entered everywhere very fast and the ship starts to go down underneath the waters. While he was dying in the fear, the Rover could hear a horrible sound. The sound was the same like the Inchcape Bell when it was sinking down. It is as if the sound of the evil ringing a death toll for him. One who digs a ditch for others, fall in that very ditch someday.

Figures of Speech –  (Stanza 01 to 04 )

1) No stir in the air, no stir in the sea
Repetition- The word ‘no stir’ is repeated.
Alliteration – The sound of letters ‘n’ & ‘s’ are repeated.

2) The ship was still as she could be
Personification – The ship is personified.
Alliteration – The sound of letter ’sh’ is repeated.

3) Her sails from heaven received no motion
Alliteration- The sound of letter ‘h’ is repeated.
Personification – The ship is personified.
Inversion – The word order is changed. The correct order- Her sails received no motion from heaven.

4) Her keel was steady in the ocean.
Personification- The ship is personified.

5) So little they rose, so little they fell
Repetition- The word ‘little’ is repeated.
Antithesis – Opposite words (rose and fell) are used.
Anti-climax -The words are arranged in descending order.
Personification – The waves are personified.

6) On a buoy in the storm it floated and swung
Inversion – The word order is changed.
It floated and swung on a buoy in the storm.
Alliteration – The sound of letter ‘s’ is repeated.

7) And over the waves its warning rung.
Alliteration – The sound ‘w’ is repeated.
Personification – The waves are personified.

8) When the Rock was hid by the surge’s swell
Alliteration –The sound of letter ‘s’ is repeated.
Personification – The rock is personified.

Figures of speech (Stanza no. 5 to 8)
1) The sun in heaven was shining gay.

Inversion-The words are not in a correct order. The line should be as – The sun was shining gay in heaven.

2) The sea-birds scream’d as they wheel’s around.

Alliteration- The sound of letter ‘s’ is repeated.

3) It made him whistle, it made him sing.

Repetition- The words ‘it made him’ repeated.
Anaphora- It made him these words are repeated at the beginning of the line.

Figures of Speech – (Stanza 09 to 12)

1) The boat is lower’d, the boatmen row.

Climax – The words are arranged in the ascending orderAlliteration – The sound of letter ‘b’ is repeated.

2) And to the Inchcape Rock they go
Inversion – The word order is changed. The correct order- And they go to the Inchcape Rock.
Alliteration – The sound of letters ‘th’ is repeated.

3) Sir Ralph bent over from the boat.

Alliteration – The sound ‘b’ is repeated.

4) And he cut the Bell from the Inchcape float.

Alliteration – The sound ‘f’ is repeated.

5) Down sunk the Bell with a gurgling sound.

Onomatopoeia – The word follows the sound.

6) The bubbles rose and burst around.

Onomatopoeia – The word follows the sound.
Alliteration – The sound of letter ‘b’ is repeated.
Climax – The words are arranged ascending order.

7) He scour’d the seas for many a day.

Alliteration -The sound ‘s’ is repeated.

Figures of Speech – (Stanza 13 to 17)

1) On the deck the Rover takes his stand.

Inversion – The word order is changed.  The correct word order- The Rover takes his stand on the deck.

2) For there is the dawn of rising Moon.

Paradox – The line is absurd.

3) ‘Canst hear’, said one, ‘breakers roar?

Interrogation – The question mark is used here.

4) For me thinks we should be near the shore.

Alliteration – The sound of letter ‘s’ is repeated.

5) Now where we are I cannot tell.

Inversion – The word order is changed. The correct word order-I cannot tell where we are now.

6) Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock.

Alliteration – The sound of letter ‘s’ is repeated.Transferred Epithet – The adjective ‘shivering’ transferred from human to shock.

Personification – The word shock is personified.

7) O Christ! it is the Inchcape Rock!

Apostrophe – One of the rovers is addressing to god. Exclamation – exclamatory mark is used.

8) The waves rush in every side

Personification – The waves are personified.

9) But even in his dying fear

Transferred Epithet – The adjective dying is transferred from human to fear.

Personification – The fear is personified.

10) A sound as if with the Inchcape Bell

Simile – The sound of sinking ship is directly compared with sound of sinking the Inchcape Bell. 

Click on the image below and get the definitions and examples of various figures of speech-

The Inchcape Rock

Activity Sheet No. 1

Q. Read the extract and complete the activities given below. (10)

No stir in the air, no stir in the sea,
The Ship was still as she could be;
Her sails from heaven received no motion,
Her keel was steady in the ocean.  

Without either sign or sound of their shock,
The waves flow’d over the Inchcape Rock;
So little they rose, so little they fell,
They did not move the Inchcape Bell.  

The worthy Abbot of Aberbrothok
Had placed that bell on the Inchcape Rock;
On a buoy in the storm, it floated and swung,
And over the waves its warning rung.  

When the Rock was hid by the surge’s swell,
The Mariners heard the warning Bell;
And then they knew the perilous Rock,
And blest the Abbot of Aberbrothok

A1. Web    (2)

Complete the web giving the expression of calmness.

1) ————3)
————Expressions of calmness————
2) ————4)

A2. Give reason (2)

Abbot of Aberbrothok was called worthy.

A3. Personal response (2)

List the risks of journey by sea.

A4. Poetic device (2)

Write two examples of the figure of speech – ‘repetition’ from the extract.

A5. Poetic creativity (2)

Add your two poetic lines to rhyme with the first two lines.

So little they rose, so little they fell,

They did not move the Inchcape Bell.


Click below-

Click below-

Online Test on – The Inchcape Rock

See answers in the following book-

Activity Workbook for Std. XII English by Prof. Tushar Chavan

Price Rs. 380 + Courier / Postage Rs. 50

Total Rs. 430

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9850737199 (Prof. Tushar Chavan)

See More-

Song of the Open Road

Indian Weavers

Have You Earned Your Tomorrow

Father Returning Home


She Walks in Beauty

Small Towns and Rivers

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