Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Switzerland
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Switzerland and Austria: Vol. XVI.  1876–79.
 
Switzerland: Geneva, the Lake (Lake Leman)
Lake of Geneva
Thomas Moore (1779–1852)
 
(From Rhymes on the Road)

’T WAS late,—the sun had almost shone
  His last and best, when I ran on,
Anxious to reach that splendid view
Before the daybeams quite withdrew;
And feeling as all feel, on first        5
  Approaching scenes where, they are told,
Such glories on their eyes shall burst
  As youthful bards in dreams behold.
’T was distant yet, and, as I ran,
  Full often was my wistful gaze        10
Turned to the sun, who now began
  To call in all his outpost rays,
And form a denser march of light,
Such as beseems a hero’s flight.
O, how I wished for Joshua’s power        15
To stay the brightness of that hour!
But no,—the sun still less became,
  Diminished to a speck, as splendid
And small as were those tongues of flame
  That on the Apostles’ heads descended!        20
 
’T was at this instant—while there glowed
  This last, intensest gleam of light—
Suddenly, through the opening road,
  The valley burst upon my sight!
That glorious valley, with its lake,        25
  And Alps on Alps in clusters swelling,
Mighty, and pure, and fit to make
  The ramparts of a Godhead’s dwelling!
 
I stood entranced and mute,—as they
  Of Israel think the assembled world        30
Will stand upon that awful day
  When the ark’s light, aloft unfurled,
Among the opening clouds shall shine,
Divinity’s own radiant sign!
Highly Mont Blanc! thou wert to me,        35
  That minute, with thy brow in heaven,
As sure a sign of Deity
  As e’er to mortal gaze was given.
Nor ever, were I destined yet
  To live my life twice o’er again,        40
Can I the deep-felt awe forget,—
  The ecstasy that thrilled me then!
 
’T was all that consciousness of power,
And life beyond this mortal hour,—
Those mountings of the soul within        45
At thoughts of Heaven,—as birds begin
By instinct in the cage to rise,
When near their time for change of skies,—
That proud assurance of our claim
  To rank among the Sons of Light,        50
Mingled with shame—O, bitter shame!—
  At having risked that splendid right
For aught that earth, through all its range
Of glories, offers in exchange!—
’T was all this, at the instant brought,        55
Like breaking sunshine, o’er my thought,—
’T was all this, kindled to a glow
  Of sacred zeal, which, could it shine
Thus purely ever, man might grow,
  Even upon earth, a thing divine,        60
And be once more the creature made
To walk unstained the Elysian shade!
 
 
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