"Chamouni" [poem]
Chamouni a
The wreathing clouds are fleeting fast 1
Deep shade upon the hills they cast
While through their openings ever shew
Enormous pyramids of snow
Scarce can you tell in middle air
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If cloud or mountain rises there
Yet may you mark the glittering light
That glances from the glaciered height
And you may mark the shades that sever
The throne where winter sits for ever
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The avalanches thunder rolling
No summer heat his reign controlling
The gloomy tyrant in his pride
Spreads his dominion far & wide
Till set with many an icy gem
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Rises his cliffy diadem 2
Above a steepy crag we wound
Where gloomy pines his forehead crowned
And heard we with a sullen swell
The turbid Arve dash through the dell
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You might have thought it moaning by
Wail for the loss of liberty
For high the rocks whose mighty screen
Confined the narrow pass between
And many a mass of granite grey
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Opposed the torrents forceful way
So headlong rushed the lightning tide
No pass was there for aught beside
And we high oʼer those cliffs so sheer
Must climb the mountain barrier
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Until unfolded to the eye
The fruitful fields of Chamouni 3
It lay before us as a child
Of beauty in the desert wild
Full strange it seemed that thing so fair,
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So fairy like could harbour there
For fields of bending corn there grew
Close to the glaciers wintry blue
And saw we the same sunray shine
On pasture gay and mountain pine
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Whose dark & spiry forests rose
Till mingled with eternal snows
That climbed into the clear blue sky
In peaked impending majesty
ʼTis passing strange that such a place
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In all its native loveliness
Should, pent within those wilds so lone
For many ages pass unknown
Unknown save by a simple few
Who their own valley only knew
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Nor dared the mountain ridge that bound
That lovely vale with terrors round
That lived secluded from mankind
Contented yet in heart and mind
That lived within that world alone
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A world of beauty of their own 4
And now Helvetiaʼs cliffy reign
Contains not in her Alpine chain
In valley deep, on mountain high,
A race like those of Chamouni
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For they have loved at dawn of day
To trace the chamois fearful way
Or on the toppling shelf of snow
With crags above and clouds below
Or on the peak whose spiry head
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Is beetling oer abysses dread
Where place for foot, and grasp for hand,
Is all the hunter can command
Or on the glaciers rigid wave
Where he may find a chasmy grave 5
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Returning with his spoils at even
Ere the red sun hath left the heaven
 1833. b