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: Geneva, the Lake (Lake Leman)
Rousseau
Lord Byron (1788–1824)
 
(From Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage)

  HERE the self-torturing sophist, wild Rousseau,
  The apostle of affliction, he who threw
  Enchantment over passion, and from woe
  Wrung overwhelming eloquence, first drew
  The breath which made him wretched; yet he knew        5
  How to make madness beautiful, and cast
  O’er erring deeds and thoughts a heavenly hue
  Of words, like sunbeams, dazzling as they past
The eyes, which o’er them shed tears feelingly and fast.
 
  His love was passion’s essence—as a tree        10
  On fire by lightning; with ethereal flame
  Kindled he was, and blasted: for to be
  Thus, and enamoured, were in him the same.
  But his was not the love of living dame,
  Nor of the dead who rise upon our dreams,        15
  But of ideal beauty, which became
  In him existence, and o’erflowing teems
Along his burning page, distempered though it seems.
 
  This breathed itself to life in Julie, this
  Invested her with all that ’s wild and sweet;        20
  This hallowed, too, the memorable kiss
  Which every morn his fevered lip would greet,
  From hers, who but with friendship his would meet;
  But to that gentle touch, through brain and breast
  Flashed the thrilled spirit’s love-devouring heat;        25
  In that absorbing sigh perchance more blest,
Than vulgar minds may be with all they seek possest.
 
  His life was one long war with self-sought foes,
  Or friends by him self-banished; for his mind
  Had grown suspicion’s sanctuary, and chose        30
  For its own cruel sacrifice the kind,
  ’Gainst whom he raged with fury strange and blind.
  But he was phrensied,—wherefore, who may know?
  Since cause might be which skill could never find;
  But he was phrensied by disease or woe,        35
To that worst pitch of all, which wears a reasoning show.
 
  For then he was inspired, and from him came,
  As from the Pythian’s mystic cave of yore,
  Those oracles which set the world in flame,
  Nor ceased to burn till kingdoms were no more:        40
  Did he not this for France? which lay before
  Bowed to the inborn tyranny of years,
  Broken and trembling, to the yoke she bore,
  Till by the voice of him and his compeers,
Roused up to too much wrath, which follows o’ergrown fears?        45
 
 
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