"Andernacht" [essay]
What is it that makes the very heart leap within you at the sight of a
hillʼs blue outline; that so √¶therializes the soul and ennobles the spirit;
that so raises you from the earth and from aught of the earth? Is it
their apparent proximity to the blue heavenʼs inaccessibleness? is it the
humbling sense of your own littleness or the immoveable, unchangeable
magnificence of that which has seen the beginning of the world and will see

its end, or is it that the thoughts range insensibly from the things created
to Him who created them? I know not. How it thrilled through me,
when first, far away, across the lake‐like swell of the deep waters of that
wondrous river, rose the cloudy outline of the blue mountains. Long time
hath past over me since I saw the swell of a blue hill. I have longed for
them—I have yearned for them as an exile yearns for his native land, and
I am with them.
We left Cologne on a misty summer morning, its many turreted spires
rising colossally, but grey and faint amid the wreathing columns of mist,
which smoked upward from the course of the broad Rhine. There was
the huge cathedral, dark with the confused richness of its own fretwork,
and the remains of its unfinished but magnificent tower showing ruin‐like
beside it. 1 There were the red sails and mingled masts of the innumerable
shipping, without one sail swelling or a flag bending with the morning
breeze. There was that peaceful and lovely lassitude over everything, that
sleep of the earth, and the air, and the sky, that charms the mind into a
correspondent fascination of stillness, the very thoughts seem sleeping.
We went on, we past Bonn, and Godesberg, and Drachenfels, 2 and
sunset was sorrowing over hill and valley when the gloomy and venerable
towers of Andernacht beetled over us.
I love to look upon the crags that Cæsar has scaled, and upon the
towers that his legions have founded. These are now as they were then,
looking up to the broad blue heaven, these are in ruins. 3 Yet they
are mighty in their ruin, and majestic in their decay, but their Lords are
departed and forgotten as the waves that once lashed their foundations.
Other snows have melted, and the Rhine yet rolls onward unbroken, but
those waves are lost in the ocean for ever.