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.
 
Switzerland: Alps, The
The Alps
Samuel Rogers (1763–1855)
 
(From Italy)

WHO first beholds those everlasting clouds,
Seedtime and harvest, morning, noon, and night,
Still where they were, steadfast, immovable,—
Those mighty hills, so shadowy, so sublime,
As rather to belong to heaven than earth—        5
But instantly receives into his soul
A sense, a feeling that he loses not,
A something that informs him ’t is an hour
Whence he may date henceforward and forever.
  To me they seemed the barriers of a world,        10
Saying, Thus far, no farther! and as o’er
The level plain I travelled silently,
Nearing them more and more, day after day,
My wandering thoughts my only company,
And they before me still,—oft as I looked,        15
A strange delight was mine, mingled with fear,
A wonder as at things I had not heard of!
And still and still I felt as if I gazed
For the first time!—Great was the tumult there,
Deafening the din, when in barbaric pomp        20
The Carthaginian on his march to Rome
Entered their fastnesses. Trampling the snows,
The war-horse reared; and the towered elephant
Upturned his trunk into the murky sky,
Then tumbled headlong, swallowed up and lost,        25
He and his rider.
                Now the scene is changed;
And o’er the Simplon, o’er the Splugen winds
A path of pleasure. Like a silver zone
Flung about carelessly, it shines afar,
Catching the eye in many a broken link,        30
In many a turn and traverse as it glides;
And oft above and oft below appears,
Seen o’er the wall by him who journeys up,
As if it were another, through the wild
Leading along he knows not whence or whither.        35
Yet through its fairy-course, go where it will,
The torrent stops it not, the rugged rock
Opens and lets it in; and on it runs,
Winning its easy way from clime to clime
Through glens locked up before.—Not such my path!        40
The very path for them that dare defy
Danger, nor shrink, wear he what shape he will;
That o’er the caldron, when the flood boils up,
Hang as in air, gazing and shuddering on
Till fascination comes and the brain turns!        45
The very path for them, that list, to choose
Where best to plant a monumental cross,
And live in story like Empedocles;
A track for heroes, such as he who came,
Ere long, to win, to wear the iron crown;        50
And (if aright I judge from what I felt
Over the Drance, just where the Abbot fell,
Rolled downward in an after-dinner’s sleep)
The same as Hannibal’s. But now ’t is passed,
That turbulent Chaos; and the promised land        55
Lies at my feet in all its loveliness!
To him who starts up from a terrible dream,
And lo, the sun is shining, and the lark
Singing aloud for joy, to him is not
Such sudden ravishment as now I feel        60
At the first glimpses of fair Italy.
 
 
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