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: Lucerne
Lucerne
Samuel Rogers (1763–1855)
 
(From Italy)

                    YET there is,
Within an eagle’s flight and less, a scene
Still nobler if not fairer, (once again
Would I behold it ere these eyes are closed,
For I can say, “I also have been there!”)        5
That sacred lake withdrawn among the hills,
Its depth of waters flanked as with a wall
Built by the giant-race before the flood;
Where not a cross or chapel but inspires
Holy delight, lifting our thoughts to God        10
From godlike men,—men in a barbarous age
That dared assert their birthright, and displayed
Deeds half divine, returning good for ill;
That in the desert sowed the seeds of life,
Framing a band of small Republics there,        15
Which still exist, the envy of the world!
Who would not land in each, and tread the ground,—
Land where Tell leaped ashore,—and climb to drink
Of the three hallowed fountains? He that does,
Comes back the better; and relates at home        20
That he was met and greeted by a race
Such as he read of in his boyish days,
Such as Miltiades at Marathon
Led, when he chased the Persians to their ships.
 
  There, while the well-known boat is heaving in,        25
Piled with rude merchandise, or launching forth,
Thronged with wild cattle for Italian fairs,
There in the sunshine, mid their native snows,
Children, let loose from school, contend to use
The cross-bow of their fathers; and o’errun        30
The rocky field where all, in every age,
Assembling sit, like one great family,
Forming alliances, enacting laws;
Each cliff and headland and green promontory
Graven to their eyes with records of the past        35
That prompt to hero-worship, and excite
Even in the least, the lowliest, as he toils,
A reverence nowhere else or felt or feigned;
Their chronicler great Nature; and the volume
Vast as her works,—above, below, around!        40
The fisher on thy beach, Thermopylæ,
Asks of the lettered stranger why he came,
First from his lips to learn the glorious truth!
And who that whets his scythe in Runnemede,
Though but for them a slave, recalls to mind        45
The barons in array, with their great charter?
Among the everlasting Alps alone,
There to burn on as in a sanctuary,
Bright and unsullied lives the ethereal flame;
And mid those scenes unchanged, unchangeable,        50
Why should it ever die?
 
 
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