Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Spain, &c.
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV.  1876–79.
 
Portugal: Arrabida, the Mountain
Written after Visiting the Convent of Arrabida, near Setubal
Robert Southey (1774–1843)
 
HAPPY the dwellers in this holy house;
For surely never worldly thoughts intrude
On this retreat, this sacred solitude,
Where Quiet with Religion makes her home.
And ye who tenant such a goodly scene,        5
How should ye be but good where all is fair,
And where the mirror of the mind reflects
Serenest beauty? O’er these mountain-wilds
The insatiate eye with ever-new delight
Roams raptured, marking now where to the wind        10
The tall tree bends its many-tinted boughs
With soft, accordant sound; and now the sport
Of joyous sea-birds o’er the tranquil deep;
And now the long-extending stream of light,
Where the broad orb of day refulgent sinks        15
Beneath old Ocean’s line. To have no cares
That eat the heart, no wants that to the earth
Chain the reluctant spirit, to be freed
From forced communion with the selfish tribe
Who worship Mammon,—yea, emancipate        20
From this world’s bondage, even while the soul
Inhabits still its corruptible clay,—
Almost, ye dwellers in this holy house,
Almost I envy you. You never see
Pale Misery’s asking eye, nor roam about        25
Those huge and hateful haunts of crowded men,
Where Wealth and Power have built their palaces,
Fraud spreads his snares secure, man preys on man,
Iniquity abounds, and rampant Vice,
With an infection worse than mortal, taints        30
The herd of human-kind.
                    I too could love,
Ye tenants of this sacred solitude,
Here to abide, and, when the sun rides high,
Seek some sequestered dingle’s coolest shade;
And, at the breezy hour, along the beach        35
Stray with slow step, and gaze upon the deep,
And while the breath of evening fanned my brow,
And the wild waves with their continuous sound
Soothed my accustomed ear, think thankfully
That I had from the crowd withdrawn in time,        40
And found a harbor. Yet may yonder deep
Suggest a less unprofitable thought,
Monastic brethren! Would the mariner,
Though storms may sometimes swell the mighty waves,
And o’er the reeling bark with thundering crash        45
Impel the mountainous surge, quit yonder deep,
And rather float upon some tranquil sea,
Whose moveless waters never feel the gale,
In safe stagnation? Rouse thyself, my soul!
No season this for self-deluding dreams;        50
It is thy spring-time; sow, if thou wouldst reap;
Then, after honest labor, welcome rest,
In full contentment not to be enjoyed
Unless when duly earned. O, happy then
To know that we have walked among mankind        55
More sinned against than sinning! happy then
To muse on many a sorrow overpast,
And think the business of the day is done,
And as the evening of our lives shall close,—
The peaceful evening,—with a Christian’s hope        60
Expect the dawn of everlasting day!
 
 
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