Alaric Alexander Watts

(1797-1864 / England)

The Avalanche - Poem by Alaric Alexander Watts

'Tis Night; and Silence with unmoving wings
Broods o'er the sleeping waters;—not a sound
Breaks its most breathless hush. The sweet moon flings
Her pallid lustre on the hills around,
Turning the snows and ices that have crowned,
Since Chaos reigned, each vast, untrodden height,
To beryl, pearl, and silver;—whilst, profound,
In the calm, waveless lake, reflected bright,
And girt with arrowy rays, rests her full orb of light.
The' eternal mountains momently are peering
Through the dark clouds that mantle them; on high
Their glittering crests majestically rearing,
More like to children of the infinite sky,
Than of the dædal earth. Triumphantly,
Prince of the whirlwind, Monarch of the scene,
Mightiest where all are mighty; from the eye
Of mortal man half hidden by the screen
Of mists that veil his base from Arve's dark, deep ravine,
Stands the magnificent Montblanc; his brow
Scarred with innumerous thunders;—most sublime,
Even as though risen from the world below
To mark the progress of Decay; by clime,
Storm, blight, fire, earthquake, lessened not; like Time,
Stern chronicler of centuries gone by,
Doomed by a heavenly fiat still to climb,
Swell and increase with years incessantly,
Then yield at length to thee, most dread Eternity!
Hark! there are sounds of tumult and commotion
Hurtling in murmurs on the distant air,
Like the wild music of a wind-lashed ocean;—
They rage, they gather now; yon valley fair
Still sleeps in moon-bright loveliness, but there
Methinks a form of horror I behold
With giant-stride descending! 'Tis Despair,
Riding the rushing Avalanche; now rolled
From yon steep slope—by whom—what mortal may unfold?
Perchance a breath from fervid Italy
Unloosed the air-hung thunderer; or the tone
Poured from some hunter's horn; or, it may be,
The echoes of the mountain cataract, thrown
Amid its voiceful snows, have thus called down
The overwhelming ruin on the vale.
Howbeit a mystery to man unknown,
'Twas but some unseen power that did prevail,
For an inscrutable end, its slumbers to assail.
Madly it bursts along, like a broad river
That gathers strength in its most fierce career;
The black and lofty pines a moment quiver
Before its breath, but, as it draws more near,
Crash—and are seen no more. Fleet-footed Fear,
Pale as that white-robed minister of wrath,
In silent wilderment her face doth rear,
And, having gazed upon its blight and scathe,
Flies with the swift chamois from its death-dooming path!


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 22, 2010



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