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: St. Gothard
The Saint Gothard Pass
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
 
(From The Golden Legend)

PRINCE HENRY
THIS is the highest point. Two ways the rivers
Leap down to different seas, and as they roll
Grow deep and still, and their majestic presence
Becomes a benefaction to the towns
They visit, wandering silently among them,        5
Like patriarchs old among their shining tents.
 
ELSIE
How bleak and bare it is! Nothing but mosses
Grow on these rocks.
PRINCE HENRY
                    Yet are they not forgotten;
Beneficent Nature sends the mists to feed them.
 
ELSIE
See yonder little cloud, that, borne aloft
        10
So tenderly by the wind, floats fast away
Over the snowy peaks! It seems to me
The body of St. Catherine, borne by angels!
 
PRINCE HENRY
Thou art St. Catherine, and invisible angels
Bear thee across these chasms and precipices,        15
Lest thou shouldst dash thy feet against a stone!
 
ELSIE
Would I were borne unto my grave, as she was,
Upon angelic shoulders! Even now
I seem uplifted by them, light as air!
What sound is that?
PRINCE HENRY
                    The tumbling avalanches!
        20
 
ELSIE
How awful, yet how beautiful!
PRINCE HENRY
                            These are
The voices of the mountains! Thus they ope
Their snowy lips, and speak unto each other,
In the primeval language, lost to man.
 
ELSIE
What land is this that spreads itself beneath us?
        25
 
PRINCE HENRY
Italy! Italy!
ELSIE
                Land of the Madonna!
How beautiful it is! It seems a garden
Of Paradise!
 
 
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