Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Switzerland
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Switzerland and Austria: Vol. XVI.  1876–79.
 
Austria: Ampezzo
In the Pass
Helen Hunt Jackson (1830–1885)
 
ACROSS my road a mountain rose of rock,—
Fierce, naked rock. Its shadow, black and chill,
Shut out the sun. Gray clouds, which seemed to mock
With cruel challenges my helpless will,
Sprang up and scaled the steepest crags. The shrill        5
Winds, two and two, went breathless out and in,
Filling the darkened air with evil din.
 
I turned away my weary steps and said:
“This must be confine of some fearful place;
Here is no path for mortal man to tread.        10
Who enters here will tremble, face to face
With powers of darkness, whose unearthly race
In cloud and wind and storm delights to dwell,
Ruling them all by an uncanny spell.”
 
The guide but smiled, and, holding feet my hand,        15
Compelled me up a path I had not seen.
It wound round ledges where I scarce could stand;
It plunged to sudden sunless depths between
Immeasurable cliffs, which seemed to lean
Together, closing as we passed, like door        20
Of dungeon which would open nevermore.
 
I said again: “I will not go. This way
Is not for mortal feet.” Again the guide
But smiled, and I again could but obey.
The path grew narrow; thundering by its side,        25
As loud as ocean at its highest tide,
A river rushed, all black and green and white,
A boiling stream of molten malachite.
 
Sudden I heard a joyous cry, “Behold, behold!”
And, smiling still on me, the good guide turned,        30
And pointed where broad, sunny fields unrolled
And spread like banners; green, so green it burned,
And lit the air like red; and blue which yearned
From all the lofty dome of sky, and bent
And folded low and circling like a tent;        35
 
And forests ranged like armies, round and round,
At feet of mountains of eternal snow;
And valleys all alive with happy sound;
The song of birds; swift brooks’ delicious flow;
The mystic hum of million things that grow;        40
The stir of men; mid gladdening every way,
Voices of little children at their play;
 
And shining banks of flowers which words refuse
To paint; such colors as in summer light
The rarest, fleetest summer rainbows use,        45
But set in gold of sun, and silver white
Of dew, as thick as gems which blind the sight
On altar fronts, inlaid with priceless things,
The jewelled gifts of centuries of kings.
 
Then, sitting half in dream, and half in fear        50
Of how such wondrous miracle were wrought,
Thy name, dear friend, I sudden seemed to hear
Through all the charméd air.
                        My loving thought
Through patient years had vainly groped and sought,
And found no hidden thing so rare, so good,        55
That it might furnish thy similitude.
 
O noble soul, whose strengths like mountains stand,
Whose purposes, like adamantine stone,
Bar roads to feeble feet, and wrap the land
In seeming shadow, thou, too, hast thine own        60
Sweet valleys full of flowers, for me alone,
Unseen, unknown, undreamed of by the mass,
Who do not know the secret of the Pass.
 
 
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