Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works



      WERE there, below, a spot of holy ground
      Where from distress a refuge might be found,
      And solitude prepare the soul for heaven;
      Sure, nature's God that spot to man had given
      Where falls the purple morning far and wide
      In flakes of light upon the mountain side;
      Where with loud voice the power of water shakes
      The leafy wood, or sleeps in quiet lakes.
        Yet not unrecompensed the man shall roam,
      Who at the call of summer quits his home,                       10
      And plods through some wide realm o'er vale and height,
      Though seeking only holiday delight;
      At least, not owning to himself an aim
      To which the sage would give a prouder name.
      No gains too cheaply earned his fancy cloy,
      Though every passing zephyr whispers joy;
      Brisk toil, alternating with ready ease,
      Feeds the clear current of his sympathies.
      For him sod-seats the cottage-door adorn;
      And peeps the far-off spire, his evening bourn!                 20
      Dear is the forest frowning o'er his head,
      And dear the velvet green-sward to his tread:
      Moves there a cloud o'er mid-day's flaming eye?
      Upward he looks--"and calls it luxury:"
      Kind Nature's charities his steps attend;
      In every babbling brook he finds a friend;
      While chastening thoughts of sweetest use, bestowed
      By wisdom, moralise his pensive road.
      Host of his welcome inn, the noon-tide bower,
      To his spare meal he calls the passing poor;                    30
      He views the sun uplift his golden fire,
      Or sink, with heart alive like Memnon's lyre;
      Blesses the moon that comes with kindly ray,
      To light him shaken by his rugged way.
      Back from his sight no bashful children steal;
      He sits a brother at the cottage-meal;
      His humble looks no shy restraint impart;
      Around him plays at will the virgin heart.
      While unsuspended wheels the village dance,
      The maidens eye him with enquiring glance,                      40
      Much wondering by what fit of crazing care,
      Or desperate love, bewildered, he came there.
        A hope, that prudence could not then approve,
      That clung to Nature with a truant's love,
      O'er Gallia's wastes of corn my footsteps led;
      Her files of road-elms, high above my head
      In long-drawn vista, rustling in the breeze;
      Or where her pathways straggle as they please
      By lonely farms and secret villages.
      But lo! the Alps ascending white in air,                        50
      Toy with the sun and glitter from afar.
        And now, emerging from the forest's gloom,
      I greet thee, Chartreuse, while I mourn thy doom.
      Whither is fled that Power whose frown severe
      Awed sober Reason till she crouched in fear?
      'That' Silence, once in deathlike fetters bound,
      Chains that were loosened only by the sound
      Of holy rites chanted in measured round?
      --The voice of blasphemy the fane alarms,
      The cloister startles at the gleam of arms.                     60
      The thundering tube the aged angler hears,
      Bent o'er the groaning flood that sweeps away his tears.
      Cloud-piercing pine-trees nod their troubled heads,
      Spires, rocks, and lawns a browner night o'erspreads;
      Strong terror checks the female peasant's sighs,
      And start the astonished shades at female eyes.
      From Bruno's forest screams the affrighted jay,
      And slow the insulted eagle wheels away.
      A viewless flight of laughing Demons mock
      The Cross, by angels planted on the aerial rock.                70
      The "parting Genius" sighs with hollow breath
      Along the mystic streams of Life and Death.
      Swelling the outcry dull, that long resounds
      Portentous through her old woods' trackless bounds,
      Vallombre, 'mid her falling fanes, deplores,
      For ever broke, the sabbath of her bowers.
        More pleased, my foot the hidden margin roves
      Of Como, bosomed deep in chestnut groves.
      No meadows thrown between, the giddy steeps
      Tower, bare or sylvan, from the narrow deeps.                   80
      --To towns, whose shades of no rude noise complain,
      From ringing team apart and grating wain--
      To flat-roofed towns, that touch the water's bound,
      Or lurk in woody sunless glens profound,
      Or, from the bending rocks, obtrusive cling,
      And o'er the whitened wave their shadows fling--
      The pathway leads, as round the steeps it twines;
      And Silence loves its purple roof of vines.
      The loitering traveller hence, at evening, sees
      From rock-hewn steps the sail between the trees;                90
      Or marks, 'mid opening cliffs, fair dark-eyed maids
      Tend the small harvest of their garden glades;
      Or stops the solemn mountain-shades to view
      Stretch o'er the pictured mirror broad and blue,
      And track the yellow lights from steep to steep,
      As up the opposing hills they slowly creep.
      Aloft, here, half a village shines, arrayed
      In golden light; half hides itself in shade:
      While, from amid the darkened roofs, the spire,
      Restlessly flashing, seems to mount like fire:                 100
      There, all unshaded, blazing forests throw
      Rich golden verdure on the lake below.
      Slow glides the sail along the illumined shore,
      And steals into the shade the lazy oar;
      Soft bosoms breathe around contagious sighs,
      And amorous music on the water dies.
      How blest, delicious scene! the eye that greets
      Thy open beauties, or thy lone retreats;
      Beholds the unwearied sweep of wood that scales
      Thy cliffs; the endless waters of thy vales;                   110
      Thy lowly cots that sprinkle all the shore,
      Each with its household boat beside the door;
      Thy torrents shooting from the clear-blue sky;
      Thy towns, that cleave, like swallows' nests, on high;
      That glimmer hoar in eve's last light, descried
      Dim from the twilight water's shaggy side,
      Whence lutes and voices down the enchanted woods
      Steal, and compose the oar-forgotten floods;
      Thy lake, that, streaked or dappled, blue or grey,
      'Mid smoking woods gleams hid from morning's ray               120
      Slow-travelling down the western hills, to enfold
      Its green-tinged margin in a blaze of gold;
      Thy glittering steeples, whence the matin bell
      Calls forth the woodman from his desert cell,
      And quickens the blithe sound of oars that pass
      Along the steaming lake, to early mass.
      But now farewell to each and all--adieu
      To every charm, and last and chief to you,
      Ye lovely maidens that in noontide shade
      Rest near your little plots of wheaten glade;                  130
      To all that binds the soul in powerless trance,
      Lip-dewing song, and ringlet-tossing dance;
      Where sparkling eyes and breaking smiles illume
      The sylvan cabin's lute-enlivened gloom.
      --Alas! the very murmur of the streams
      Breathes o'er the failing soul voluptuous dreams,
      While Slavery, forcing the sunk mind to dwell
      On joys that might disgrace the captive's cell,
      Her shameless timbrel shakes on Como's marge,
      And lures from bay to bay the vocal barge.                     140
        Yet are thy softer arts with power indued
      To soothe and cheer the poor man's solitude.
      By silent cottage-doors, the peasant's home
      Left vacant for the day, I loved to roam.
      But once I pierced the mazes of a wood
      In which a cabin undeserted stood;
      There an old man an olden measure scanned
      On a rude viol touched with withered hand.
      As lambs or fawns in April clustering lie
      Under a hoary oak's thin canopy,                               150
      Stretched at his feet, with stedfast upward eye,
      His children's children listened to the sound;
      --A Hermit with his family around!
        But let us hence; for fair Locarno smiles
      Embowered in walnut slopes and citron isles:
      Or seek at eve the banks of Tusa's stream,
      Where, 'mid dim towers and woods, her waters gleam.
      From the bright wave, in solemn gloom, retire
      The dull-red steeps, and, darkening still, aspire
      To where afar rich orange lustres glow                         160
      Round undistinguished clouds, and rocks, and snow:
      Or, led where Via Mala's chasms confine
      The indignant waters of the infant Rhine,
      Hang o'er the abyss, whose else impervious gloom
      His burning eyes with fearful light illume.
        The mind condemned, without reprieve, to go
      O'er life's long deserts with its charge of woe,
      With sad congratulation joins the train
      Where beasts and men together o'er the plain
      Move on--a mighty caravan of pain:                             170
      Hope, strength, and courage, social suffering brings,
      Freshening the wilderness with shades and springs.
      --There be whose lot far otherwise is cast:
      Sole human tenant of the piny waste,
      By choice or doom a gipsy wanders here,
      A nursling babe her only comforter;
      Lo, where she sits beneath yon shaggy rock,
      A cowering shape half hid in curling smoke!
        When lightning among clouds and mountain-snows
      Predominates, and darkness comes and goes,                     180
      And the fierce torrent, at the flashes broad
      Starts, like a horse, beside the glaring road--
      She seeks a covert from the battering shower
      In the roofed bridge; a the bridge, ill that dread hour,
      Itself all trembling at the torrent's power.
        Nor is she more at ease on some 'still' night,
      When not a star supplies the comfort of its light;
      Only the waning moon hangs dull and red
      Above a melancholy mountain's head,
      Then sets. In total gloom the Vagrant sighs,                   190
      Stoops her sick head, and shuts her weary eyes;
      Or on her fingers counts the distant clock,
      Or, to the drowsy crow of midnight cock,
      Listens, or quakes while from the forest's gulf
      Howls near and nearer yet the famished wolf.
        From the green vale of Urseren smooth and wide
      Descend we now, the maddened Reuss our guide;
      By rocks that, shutting out the blessed day,
      Cling tremblingly to rocks as loose as they;
      By cells upon whose image, while he prays,                   200
      The kneeling peasant scarcely dares to gaze;
      By many a votive death-cross planted near,
      And watered duly with the pious tear,
      That faded silent from the upward eye
      Unmoved with each rude form of peril nigh;
      Fixed on the anchor left by Him who saves
      Alike in whelming snows, and roaring waves.
        But soon a peopled region on the sight
      Opens--a little world of calm delight;
      Where mists, suspended on the expiring gale,                   210
      Spread rooflike o'er the deep secluded vale,
      And beams of evening slipping in between,
      Gently illuminate a sober scene:--
      Here, on the brown wood-cottages they sleep,
      There, over rock or sloping pasture creep.
      On as we journey, in clear view displayed,
      The still vale lengthens underneath its shade
      Of low-hung vapour: on the freshened mead
      The green light sparkles;--the dim bowers recede.
      While pastoral pipes and streams the landscape lull,           220
      And bells of passing mules that tinkle dull,
      In solemn shapes before the admiring eye
      Dilated hang the misty pines on high,
      Huge convent domes with pinnacles and towers,
      And antique castles seen through gleamy showers.
        From such romantic dreams, my soul, awake!
      To sterner pleasure, where, by Uri's lake
      In Nature's pristine majesty outspread,
      Winds neither road nor path for foot to tread:
      The rocks rise naked as a wall, or stretch                     230
      Far o'er the water, hung with groves of beech;
      Aerial pines from loftier steeps ascend,
      Nor stop but where creation seems to end.
      Yet here and there, if mid the savage scene
      Appears a scanty plot of smiling green,
      Up from the lake a zigzag path will creep
      To reach a small wood-hut hung boldly on the steep,
      --Before those thresholds (never can they know
      The face of traveller passing to and fro,)
      No peasant leans upon his pole, to tell                        240
      For whom at morning tolled the funeral bell;
      Their watch-dog ne'er his angry bark foregoes,
      Touched by the beggar's moan of human woes;
      The shady porch ne'er offered a cool seat
      To pilgrims overcome by summer's heat.
      Yet thither the world's business finds its way
      At times, and tales unsought beguile the day,
      And 'there' are those fond thoughts which Solitude,
      However stern, is powerless to exclude.
      There doth the maiden watch her lover's sail                   250
      Approaching, and upbraid the tardy gale;
      At midnight listens till his parting oar,
      And its last echo, can be heard no more.
        And what if ospreys, cormorants, herons, cry
      Amid tempestuous vapours driving by,
      Or hovering over wastes too bleak to rear
      That common growth of earth, the foodful ear;
      Where the green apple shrivels on the spray,
      And pines the unripened pear in summer's kindliest ray;
      Contentment shares the desolate domain                         260
      With Independence, child of high Disdain.
      Exulting 'mid the winter of the skies,
      Shy as the jealous chamois, Freedom flies,
      And grasps by fits her sword, and often eyes;
      And sometimes, as from rock to rock she bounds
      The Patriot nymph starts at imagined sounds,
      And, wildly pausing, oft she hangs aghast,
      Whether some old Swiss air hath checked her haste
      Or thrill of Spartan fife is caught between the blast.
        Swoln with incessant rains from hour to hour,                270
      All day the floods a deepening murmur pour:
      The sky is veiled, and every cheerful sight:
      Dark is the region as with coming night;
      But what a sudden burst of overpowering light!
      Triumphant on the bosom of the storm,
      Glances the wheeling eagle's glorious form!
      Eastward, in long perspective glittering, shine
      The wood-crowned cliffs that o'er the lake recline;
      Those lofty cliffs a hundred streams unfold,
      At once to pillars turned that flame with gold:                280
      Behind his sail the peasant shrinks, to shun
      The 'west', that burns like one dilated sun,
      A crucible of mighty compass, felt
      By mountains, glowing till they seem to melt.
        But, lo! the boatman, overawed, before
      The pictured fane of Tell suspends his oar;
      Confused the Marathonian tale appears,
      While his eyes sparkle with heroic tears.
      And who, that walks where men of ancient days
      Have wrought with godlike arm the deeds of praise,             290
      Feels not the spirit of the place control,
      Or rouse and agitate his labouring soul?
      Say, who, by thinking on Canadian hills,
      Or wild Aosta lulled by Alpine rills,
      On Zutphen's plain; or on that highland dell,
      Through which rough Garry cleaves his way, can tell
      What high resolves exalt the tenderest thought
      Of him whom passion rivets to the spot,
      Where breathed the gale that caught Wolfe's happiest sigh,
      And the last sunbeam fell on Bayard's eye;                     300
      Where bleeding Sidney from the cup retired,
      And glad Dundee in "faint huzzas" expired?
        But now with other mind I stand alone
      Upon the summit of this naked cone,
      And watch the fearless chamois-hunter chase
      His prey, through tracts abrupt of desolate space,
        Through vacant worlds where Nature never gave
      A brook to murmur or a bough to wave,
      Which unsubstantial Phantoms sacred keep;
      Thro' worlds where Life, and Voice, and Motion sleep;          310
      Where silent Hours their deathlike sway extend,
      Save when the avalanche breaks loose, to rend
      Its way with uproar, till the ruin, drowned
      In some dense wood or gulf of snow profound,
      Mocks the dull ear of Time with deaf abortive sound.
      --'Tis his, while wandering on from height to height,
      To see a planet's pomp and steady light
      In the least star of scarce-appearing night;
      While the pale moon moves near him, on the bound
      Of ether, shining with diminished round,                       320
      And far and wide the icy summits blaze,
      Rejoicing in the glory of her rays:
      To him the day-star glitters small and bright,
      Shorn of its beams, insufferably white,
      And he can look beyond the sun, and view
      Those fast-receding depths of sable blue
      Flying till vision can no more pursue!
      --At once bewildering mists around him close,
      And cold and hunger are his least of woes;
      The Demon of the snow, with angry roar                         330
      Descending, shuts for aye his prison door.
      Soon with despair's whole weight his spirits sink;
      Bread has he none, the snow must be his drink;
      And, ere his eyes can close upon the day,
      The eagle of the Alps o'ershades her prey.
        Now couch thyself where, heard with fear afar,
      Thunders through echoing pines the headlong Aar;
      Or rather stay to taste the mild delights
      Of pensive Underwalden's pastoral heights.
      --Is there who 'mid these awful wilds has seen                 340
      The native Genii walk the mountain green?
      Or heard, while other worlds their charms reveal,
      Soft music o'er the aerial summit steal?
      While o'er the desert, answering every close,
      Rich steam of sweetest perfume comes and goes.
      --And sure there is a secret Power that reigns
      Here, where no trace of man the spot profanes,
      Nought but the 'chalets', flat and bare, on high
      Suspended 'mid the quiet of the sky;
      Or distant herds that pasturing upward creep,                  350
      And, not untended, climb the dangerous steep.
      How still! no irreligious sound or sight
      Rouses the soul from her severe delight.
      An idle voice the sabbath region fills
      Of Deep that calls to Deep across the hills,
      And with that voice accords the soothing sound
      Of drowsy bells, for ever tinkling round;
      Faint wail of eagle melting into blue
      Beneath the cliffs, and pine-woods' steady 'sugh';
      The solitary heifer's deepened low;                            360
      Or rumbling, heard remote, of falling snow.
      All motions, sounds, and voices, far and nigh,
      Blend in a music of tranquillity;
      Save when, a stranger seen below, the boy
      Shouts from the echoing hills with savage joy.
        When, from the sunny breast of open seas,
      And bays with myrtle fringed, the southern breeze
      Comes on to gladden April with the sight
      Of green isles widening on each snow-clad height;
      When shouts and lowing herds the valley fill,                  370
      And louder torrents stun the noon-tide hill,
      The pastoral Swiss begin the cliffs to scale,
      Leaving to silence the deserted vale;
      And like the Patriarchs in their simple age
      Move, as the verdure leads, from stage to stage:
      High and more high in summer's heat they go,
      And hear the rattling thunder far below;
      Or steal beneath the mountains, half-deterred,
      Where huge rocks tremble to the bellowing herd.
        One I behold who, 'cross the foaming flood,                  380
      Leaps with a bound of graceful hardihood;
      Another, high on that green ledge;--he gained
      The tempting spot with every sinew strained;
      And downward thence a knot of grass he throws,
      Food for his beasts in time of winter snows.
      --Far different life from what Tradition hoar
      Transmits of happier lot in times of yore!
      Then Summer lingered long; and honey flowed
      From out the rocks, the wild bees' safe abode:
      Continual waters welling cheered the waste,                    390
      And plants were wholesome, now of deadly taste:
      Nor Winter yet his frozen stores had piled,
      Usurping where the fairest herbage smiled:
      Nor Hunger driven the herds from pastures bare,
      To climb the treacherous cliffs for scanty fare.
      Then the milk-thistle flourished through the land,
      And forced the full-swoln udder to demand,
      Thrice every day, the pail and welcome hand.
      Thus does the father to his children tell
      Of banished bliss, by fancy loved too well.                    400
      Alas! that human guilt provoked the rod
      Of angry Nature to avenge her God.
      Still, Nature, ever just, to him imparts
      Joys only given to uncorrupted hearts.
        'Tis morn: with gold the verdant mountain glows
      More high, the snowy peaks with hues of rose.
      Far-stretched beneath the many-tinted hills,
      A mighty waste of mist the valley fills,
      A solemn sea! whose billows wide around
      Stand motionless, to awful silence bound:                      410
      Pines, on the coast, through mist their tops uprear,
      That like to leaning masts of stranded ships appear.
      A single chasm, a gulf of gloomy blue,
      Gapes in the centre of the sea--and, through
      That dark mysterious gulf ascending, sound
      Innumerable streams with roar profound.
      Mount through the nearer vapours notes of birds,
      And merry flageolet; the low of herds,
      The bark of dogs, the heifer's tinkling bell,
      Talk, laughter, and perchance a churchtower knell:             420
      Think not, the peasant from aloft has gazed
      And heard with heart unmoved, with soul unraised:
      Nor is his spirit less enrapt, nor less
      Alive to independent happiness,
      Then, when he lies, out-stretched, at eventide
      Upon the fragrant mountain's purple side:
      For as the pleasures of his simple day
      Beyond his native valley seldom stray,
      Nought round its darling precincts can he find
      But brings some past enjoyment to his mind;                    430
      While Hope, reclining upon Pleasure's urn,
      Binds her wild wreaths, and whispers his return.
        Once, Man entirely free, alone and wild,
      Was blest as free--for he was Nature's child.
      He, all superior but his God disdained,
      Walked none restraining, and by none restrained
      Confessed no law but what his reason taught,
      Did all he wished, and wished but what he ought.
      As man in his primeval dower arrayed
      The image of his glorious Sire displayed,                      440
      Even so, by faithful Nature guarded, here
      The traces of primeval Man appear;
      The simple dignity no forms debase;
      The eye sublime, and surly lion-grace:
      The slave of none, of beasts alone the lord,
      His book he prizes, nor neglects his sword;
      Well taught by that to feel his rights, prepared
      With this "the blessings he enjoys to guard."
        And, as his native hills encircle ground
      For many a marvellous victory renowned,                        450
      The work of Freedom daring to oppose,
      With few in arms, innumerable foes,
      When to those famous fields his steps are led,
      An unknown power connects him with the dead:
      For images of other worlds are there;
      Awful the light, and holy is the air.
      Fitfully, and in flashes, through his soul,
      Like sun-lit tempests, troubled transports roll;
      His bosom heaves, his Spirit towers amain,
      Beyond the senses and their little reign.                      460
        And oft, when that dread vision hath past by,
      He holds with God himself communion high,
      There where the peal of swelling torrents fills
      The sky-roofed temple of the eternal hills;
      Or when, upon the mountain's silent brow
      Reclined, he sees, above him and below,
      Bright stars of ice and azure fields of snow;
      While needle peaks of granite shooting bare
      Tremble in ever-varying tints of air.
      And when a gathering weight of shadows brown                   470
      Falls on the valleys as the sun goes down;
      And Pikes, of darkness named and fear and storms,
      Uplift in quiet their illumined forms,
      In sea-like reach of prospect round him spread,
      Tinged like an angel's smile all rosy red--
      Awe in his breast with holiest love unites,
      And the near heavens impart their own delights.
        When downward to his winter hut he goes,
      Dear and more dear the lessening circle grows;
      That hut which on the hills so oft employs                     480
      His thoughts, the central point of all his joys.
      And as a swallow, at the hour of rest,
      Peeps often ere she darts into her nest,
      So to the homestead, where the grandsire tends
      A little prattling child, he oft descends,
      To glance a look upon the well-matched pair;
      Till storm and driving ice blockade him there.
      There, safely guarded by the woods behind,
      He hears the chiding of the baffled wind,
      Hears Winter calling all his terrors round,                    490
      And, blest within himself, he shrinks not from the sound.
        Through Nature's vale his homely pleasures glide,
      Unstained by envy, discontent, and pride;
      The bound of all his vanity, to deck,
      With one bright bell, a favourite heifer's neck;
      Well pleased upon some simple annual feast,
      Remembered half the year and hoped the rest,
      If dairy-produce, from his inner hoard,
      Of thrice ten summers dignify the board.
      --Alas! in every clime a flying ray                            500
      Is all we have to cheer our wintry way;
      And here the unwilling mind may more than trace
      The general sorrows of the human race;
      The churlish gales of penury, that blow
      Cold as the north-wind o'er a waste of snow,
      To them the gentle groups of bliss deny
      That on the noon-day bank of leisure lie.
      Yet more;--compelled by Powers which only deign
      That 'solitary' man disturb their reign,
      Powers that support an unremitting strife                      510
      With all the tender charities of life,
      Full oft the father, when his sons have grown
      To manhood, seems their title to disown;
      And from his nest amid the storms of heaven
      Drives, eagle-like, those sons as he was driven;
      With stern composure watches to the plain--
      And never, eagle-like, beholds again!
        When long-familiar joys are all resigned,
      Why does their sad remembrance haunt the mind?
      Lo! where through flat Batavia's willowy groves,               520
      Or by the lazy Seine, the exile roves;
      O'er the curled waters Alpine measures swell,
      And search the affections to their inmost cell;
      Sweet poison spreads along the listener's veins,
      Turning past pleasures into mortal pains;
      Poison, which not a frame of steel can brave,
      Bows his young head with sorrow to the grave.
        Gay lark of hope, thy silent song resume!
      Ye flattering eastern lights, once more the hills illume!
      Fresh gales and dews of life's delicious morn,                 530
      And thou, lost fragrance of the heart, return!
      Alas! the little joy to man allowed
      Fades like the lustre of an evening cloud;
      Or like the beauty in a flower installed,
      Whose season was, and cannot be recalled.
      Yet, when opprest by sickness, grief, or care,
      And taught that pain is pleasure's natural heir,
      We still confide in more than we can know;
      Death would be else the favourite friend of woe.
        'Mid savage rocks, and seas of snow that shine,              540
      Between interminable tracts of pine,
      Within a temple stands an awful shrine,
      By an uncertain light revealed, that falls
      On the mute Image and the troubled walls.
      Oh! give not me that eye of hard disdain
      That views, undimmed, Einsiedlen's wretched fane.
      While ghastly faces through the gloom appear,
      Abortive joy, and hope that works in fear;
      While prayer contends with silenced agony,
      Surely in other thoughts contempt may die.                     550
      If the sad grave of human ignorance bear
      One flower of hope--oh, pass and leave it there!
        The tall sun, pausing on an Alpine spire,
      Flings o'er the wilderness a stream of fire:
      Now meet we other pilgrims ere the day
      Close on the remnant of their weary way;
      While they are drawing toward the sacred floor
      Where, so they fondly think, the worm shall gnaw no more.
      How gaily murmur and how sweetly taste
      The fountains reared for them amid the waste!                  560
      Their thirst they slake:--they wash their toil-worn feet
      And some with tears of joy each other greet.
      Yes, I must see you when ye first behold
      Those holy turrets tipped with evening gold,
      In that glad moment will for you a sigh
      Be heaved, of charitable sympathy;
      In that glad moment when your hands are prest
      In mute devotion on the thankful breast!
        Last, let us turn to Chamouny that shields
      With rocks and gloomy woods her fertile fields:                570
      Five streams of ice amid her cots descend,
      And with wild flowers and blooming orchards blend;--
      A scene more fair than what the Grecian feigns
      Of purple lights and ever-vernal plains;
      Here all the seasons revel hand in hand:
      'Mid lawns and shades by breezy rivulets fanned,
      They sport beneath that mountain's matchless height
      That holds no commerce with the summer night.
      From age to age, throughout his lonely bounds
      The crash of ruin fitfully resounds;                           580
      Appalling havoc! but serene his brow,
      Where daylight lingers on perpetual snow;
      Glitter the stars above, and all is black below.
        What marvel then if many a Wanderer sigh,
      While roars the sullen Arve in anger by,
      That not for thy reward, unrivalled Vale!
      Waves the ripe harvest in the autumnal gale;
      That thou, the slaves of slaves, art doomed to pine
      And droop, while no Italian arts are thine,
      To soothe or cheer, to soften or refine.                       590
        Hail Freedom! whether it was mine to stray,
      With shrill winds whistling round my lonely way,
      On the bleak sides of Cumbria's heath-clad moors,
      Or where dank sea-weed lashes Scotland's shores;
      To scent the sweets of Piedmont's breathing rose,
      And orange gale that o'er Lugano blows;
      Still have I found, where Tyranny prevails,
      That virtue languishes and pleasure fails,
      While the remotest hamlets blessings share
      In thy loved presence known, and only there;                   600
      'Heart'-blessings--outward treasures too which the eye
      Of the sun peeping through the clouds can spy,
      And every passing breeze will testify.
      There, to the porch, belike with jasmine bound
      Or woodbine wreaths, a smoother path is wound;
      The housewife there a brighter garden sees,
      Where hum on busier wing her happy bees;
      On infant cheeks there fresher roses blow;
      And grey-haired men look up with livelier brow,--
      To greet the traveller needing food and rest;                  610
      Housed for the night, or but a half-hour's guest.
        And oh, fair France! though now the traveller sees
      Thy three-striped banner fluctuate on the breeze;
      Though martial songs have banished songs of love,
      And nightingales desert the village grove,
      Scared by the fife and rumbling drum's alarms,
      And the short thunder, and the flash of arms;
      That cease not till night falls, when far and nigh,
      Sole sound, the Sourd prolongs his mournful cry!
      --Yet, hast thou found that Freedom spreads her power          620
      Beyond the cottage-hearth, the cottage-door:
      All nature smiles, and owns beneath her eyes
      Her fields peculiar, and peculiar skies.
      Yes, as I roamed where Loiret's waters glide
      Through rustling aspens heard from side to side,
      When from October clouds a milder light
      Fell where the blue flood rippled into white;
      Methought from every cot the watchful bird
      Crowed with ear-piercing power till then unheard;
      Each clacking mill, that broke the murmuring streams,          630
      Rocked the charmed thought in more delightful dreams;
      Chasing those pleasant dreams, the falling leaf
      Awoke a fainter sense of moral grief;
      The measured echo of the distant flail
      Wound in more welcome cadence down the vale;
      With more majestic course the water rolled,
      And ripening foliage shone with richer gold.
      --But foes are gathering--Liberty must raise
      Red on the hills her beacon's far-seen blaze;
      Must bid the tocsin ring from tower to tower!--                640
      Nearer and nearer comes the trying hour!
      Rejoice, brave Land, though pride's perverted ire
      Rouse hell's own aid, and wrap thy fields in fire:
      Lo, from the flames a great and glorious birth;
      As if a new-made heaven were hailing a new earth!
      --All cannot be: the promise is too fair
      For creatures doomed to breathe terrestrial air:
      Yet not for this will sober reason frown
      Upon that promise, nor the hope disown;
      She knows that only from high aims ensue                       650
      Rich guerdons, and to them alone are due.
        Great God! by whom the strifes of men are weighed
      In an impartial balance, give thine aid
      To the just cause; and, oh! do thou preside
      Over the mighty stream now spreading wide:
      So shall its waters, from the heavens supplied
      In copious showers, from earth by wholesome springs,
      Brood o'er the long-parched lands with Nile-like wings!
      And grant that every sceptred child of clay
      Who cries presumptuous, "Here the flood shall stay,"           660
      May in its progress see thy guiding hand,
      And cease the acknowledged purpose to withstand;
      Or, swept in anger from the insulted shore,
      Sink with his servile bands, to rise no more!
        To-night, my Friend, within this humble cot
      Be scorn and fear and hope alike forgot
      In timely sleep; and when, at break of day,
      On the tall peaks the glistening sunbeams play,
      With a light heart our course we may renew,
      The first whose footsteps print the mountain dew.              670
      1791 & 1792.



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