Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > England
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV.  1876–79.
 
St. Michael’s Mount
St. Michael’s Mount
William Lisle Bowles (1762–1850)
 
WHILE summer airs scarce breathe along the tide,
Oft pausing, up the mountain’s scraggy side
We climb, how beautiful, how still, how clear
The scenes that stretch around! The rocks that rear
Their shapes in rich fantastic colors dressed,        5
The hill-tops where the softest shadows rest,
The long-retiring bay, the level sand,
The fading sea-line and the farthest land,
That seems, as low it lessens from the eye,
To steal away beneath the cloudless sky!        10
  But yesterday the misty morn was spread
In dreariness on the bleak mountain’s head;
No glittering prospect from the upland smiled,
The driving squall came dark, the sea heaved wild,
And, lost and lonely, the wayfarer sighed,        15
Wet with the hoar spray of the flashing tide.
How changed is now the circling scene! The deep
Stirs not; the glancing roofs and white towers peep
Along the margin of the lucid bay;
The sails descried far in the offing gray        20
Hang motionless, and the pale headland’s height
Is touched as with sweet gleams of fairy light!
  O, lives there on earth’s busy stirring scene,
Whom nature’s tranquil charms, her airs serene,
Her seas, her skies, her sunbeams, fail to move        25
With stealing tenderness and grateful love!
Go, thankless man, to misery’s care,—behold
Captivity stretched in her dungeon cold!
Or think on those who, in yon dreary mine
Sunk fathoms deep beneath the rolling brine,        30
From year to year amid the lurid shade,
O’er-wearied ply their melancholy trade;
That thou may’st bless the glorious sun, and hail
Him who with beauty clothed the hill and vale,
Who bent the arch of the high heavens for thee,        35
And stretched in amplitude the broad blue sea!
Now sunk are all its murmurs; and the air
But moves by fits the bents that here and there
Upshoot in casual spots of faded green;
Here straggling sheep the scanty pasture glean,        40
Or on the jutting fragments that impend,
Stray fearlessly, and gaze as we ascend.
  Mountain, no pomp of waving woods hast thou,
That deck with varied shade thy hoary brow;
No sunny meadows at thy feet are spread,        45
No streamlets sparkle o’er their pebbly bed!
But thou canst boast thy beauties: ample views
That catch the rapt eye of the pausing Muse;
Headlands around new-lighted; sails and seas,
Now glassy-smooth, now wrinkling to the breeze;        50
And when the drizzly winter, wrapped in sleet,
Goes by, and winds and rain thy ramparts beat,
Fancy can see thee standing thus aloof,
And frowning, bleak and bare and tempest-proof,
Look as with awful confidence, and brave        55
The howling hurricane, the dashing wave;
More graceful when the storm’s dark vapors frown
Than when the summer suns in pomp go down!
*        *        *        *        *
 
 
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