Italy : 9. The Alps Poem by Samuel Rogers

Italy : 9. The Alps

Who first beholds those everlasting clouds,
Seed-time 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--
But instantly receives into his soul
A sense, a feeling that he loses not,
A something that informs him 'tis an hour,
Whence he may date henceforth and for ever?
To me they seemed the barriers of a World,
Saying, Thus far, no further! 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,
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
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,
He and his rider. -- Now the scene is changed;
And o'er the Simplon, o'er the Splungen winds
A path of pleasure. Like a silver zone
Flung about carelessly, it shines afar,
Catching the eye in many a broken link,
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.
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!
Mine but for those, who, like Jean Jacques, delight
In dizziness, gazing and shuddering on
Till fascination comes and the brain turns!
Mine, though I judge but from my ague-fits
Over the Drance, just where the Abbot fell,
The same as Hannibal's.
But now 'tis past,
That turbulent Chaos; and the promised land
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
At the first glimpses of fair Italy.

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