Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
To a Mountain
 
Henry Clarence Kendall (1841–82)
 
 
TO thee, O father of the stately peaks,
Above me in the loftier light—to thee,
Imperial brother of those awful hills,
Whose feet are set in splendid spheres of flame,
Whose heads are where the gods are, and whose sides        5
Of strength are belted round with all the zones
Of all the world, I dedicate these songs.
And if, within the compass of this book,
There lives and glows one verse in which there beats
The pulse of wind and torrent—if one line        10
Is here that like a running water sounds,
And seems an echo from the lands of leaf,
Be sure that line is thine. Here, in this home,
Away from men and books and all the schools,
I take thee for my Teacher. In thy voice        15
Of deathless majesty, I, kneeling, hear
God’s grand authentic gospel! Year by year,
The great sublime cantata of thy storm
Strikes through my spirit—fills it with a life
Of startling beauty! Thou my Bible art        20
With holy leaves of rock, and flower, and tree,
And moss, and shining runnel. From each page
That helps to make thy awful volume, I
Have learned a noble lesson. In the psalm
Of thy grave winds, and in the liturgy        25
Of singing waters, lo! my soul has heard
The higher worship; and from thee, indeed,
The broad foundations of a finer hope
Were gathered in; and thou hast lifted up
The blind horizon for a larger faith.        30
Moreover, walking in exalted woods
Of naked glory, in the green and gold
Of forest sunshine, I have paused like one
With all the life transfigured: and a flood
Of life ineffable has made me feel        35
As felt the grand old prophets caught away
By flames of inspiration; but the words
Sufficient for the story of my dream
Are far too splendid for poor human lips!
But thou, to whom I turn with reverent eyes—        40
O stately Father, whose majestic face
Shines far above the zone of wind and cloud,
Where high dominion of the morning is—
Thou hast the Songs complete of which my songs
Are pallid adumbrations! Certain sounds        45
Of strong authentic sorrow in this book
May have the sob of upland torrents—these,
And only these, may touch the great World’s heart;
For lo! they are the issues of that grief
Which makes a man more human, and his life        50
More like that frank exalted life of thine.
But in these pages there are other tones
In which thy large, superior voice is not—
Through which no beauty that resembles thine
Has ever shown. These are the broken words        55
Of blind occasions, when the World has come
Between me and my dream. No song is here
Of mighty compass; for my singing robes
I ’ve worn in stolen moments. All my days
Have been the days of a laborious life,        60
And ever on my struggling soul has burned
The fierce heat of this hurried sphere. But thou,
To whose fair majesty I dedicate
My book of rhymes—thou hast the perfect rest
Which makes the heaven of the highest gods!        65
To thee the noises of this violent time
Are far, faint whispers, and, from age to age,
Within the world and yet apart from it,
Thou standest! Round thy lordly capes the sea
Rolls on with a superb indifference        70
Forever; in thy deep, green, gracious glens
The silver fountains sing forever. Far
Above dim ghosts of waters in the caves,
The royal robe of morning on thy head
Abides forever! Evermore the wind        75
Is thy august companion; and thy peers
Are cloud, and thunder, and the face sublime
Of blue mid-heaven! On thy awful brow
Is Deity; and in that voice of thine
There is the great imperial utterance        80
Of God forever; and thy feet are set
Where evermore, through all the days and years,
There rolls the grand hymn of the deathless wave.
 

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