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MEMORIALS OF A TOUR ON THE CONTINENT, 1820

XXXVII. DESULTORY STANZAS

UPON RECEIVING THE PRECEDING SHEETS FROM THE PRESS

          IS then the final page before me spread,
          Nor further outlet left to mind or heart?
          Presumptuous Book! too forward to be read,
          How can I give thee licence to depart?
          One tribute more: unbidden feelings start
          Forth from their coverts; slighted objects rise;
          My spirit is the scene of such wild art
          As on Parnassus rules, when lightning flies,
          Visibly leading on the thunder's harmonies.

          All that I saw returns upon my view,                        10
          All that I heard comes back upon my ear,
          All that I felt this moment doth renew;
          And where the foot with no unmanly fear
          Recoiled--and wings alone could travel--there
          I move at ease; and meet contending themes
          That press upon me, crossing the career
          Of recollections vivid as the dreams
          Of midnight,--cities, plains, forests, and mighty streams.

          Where Mortal never breathed I dare to sit
          Among the interior Alps, gigantic crew,                     20
          Who triumphed o'er diluvian power!--and yet
          What are they but a wreck and residue,
          Whose only business is to perish?--true
          To which sad course, these wrinkled Sons of Time
          Labour their proper greatness to subdue;
          Speaking of death alone, beneath a clime
          Where life and rapture flow in plenitude sublime.

          Fancy hath flung for me an airy bridge
          Across thy long deep Valley, furious Rhone!
          Arch that 'here' rests upon the granite ridge               30
          Of Monte Rosa--'there' on frailer stone
          Of secondary birth, the Jung-frau's cone;
          And, from that arch, down-looking on the Vale
          The aspect I behold of every zone;
          A sea of foliage, tossing with the gale,
          Blithe Autumn's purple crown, and Winter's icy mail!

          Far as ST. MAURICE, from yon eastern FORKS,
          Down the main avenue my sight can range:
          And all its branchy vales, and all that lurks
          Within them, church, and town, and hut, and grange,         40
          For my enjoyment meet in vision strange;
          Snows, torrents;--to the region's utmost bound,
          Life, Death, in amicable interchange;--
          But list! the avalanche--the hush profound
          That follows--yet more awful than that awful sound!

          Is not the chamois suited to his place?
          The eagle worthy of her ancestry?
          --Let Empires fall; but ne'er shall Ye disgrace
          Your noble birthright, ye that occupy
          Your council-seats beneath the open sky,                    50
          On Sarnen's Mount, there judge of fit and right,
          In simple democratic majesty;
          Soft breezes fanning your rough brows--the might
          And purity of nature spread before your sight!

          From this appropriate Court, renowned LUCERNE
          Calls me to pace her honoured Bridge--that cheers
          The Patriot's heart with pictures rude and stern,
          An uncouth Chronicle of glorious years.
          Like portraiture, from loftier source, endears
          That work of kindred frame, which spans the lake            60
          Just at the point of issue, where it fears
          The form and motion of a stream to take;
          Where it begins to stir, 'yet' voiceless as a snake.

          Volumes of sound, from the Cathedral rolled,
          This long-roofed Vista penetrate--but see,
          One after one, its tablets, that unfold
          The whole design of Scripture history;
          From the first tasting of the fatal Tree,
          Till the bright Star appeared in eastern skies,
          Announcing, ONE was born mankind to free;                   70
          His acts, his wrongs, his final sacrifice;
          Lessons for every heart, a Bible for all eyes.

          'Our' pride misleads, our timid likings kill.
          --Long may these homely Works devised of old,
          These simple efforts of Helvetian skill,
          Aid, with congenial influence, to uphold
          The State,--the Country's destiny to mould;
          Turning, for them who pass, the common dust
          Of servile opportunity to gold;
          Filling the soul with sentiments august--                   80
          The beautiful, the brave, the holy, and the just!

          No more; Time halts not in his noiseless march--
          Nor turns, nor winds, as doth the liquid flood;
          Life slips from underneath us, like that arch
          Of airy workmanship whereon we stood,
          Earth stretched below, heaven in our neighbourhood.
          Go forth, my little Book! pursue thy way;
          Go forth, and please the gentle and the good;
          Nor be a whisper stifled, if it say
          That treasures, yet untouched, may grace some future Lay.   90


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