"Passing the Alps" [poem]
TODAY we pass the Alps,—to‐day 1
High oʼer the barrier winds our way,—
The barrier of boundless length! 2
The Queen of nations, 3 in her strength,
Considered its recesses lone
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Beseeming bulwark for her throne;
Until her Carthaginian foe
Had soiled the yet unsullied snow,—
The eagle drove from her retreat,—
And woke the echoes from their sleep,
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That neʼer had answerèd before
Save to the avalancheʼs roar. 4
Methinks upon the mountain‐side
I see the billows of that tide,—
Of men and horses headlong driven
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As clouds before the blast of heaven,
That ever change their hurrying form
In dark foreboding of the storm;
When the low sunʼs last light is shed
In glowing streaks of swarthy red;
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And from his cave with fitful swell
Wakes the wild tempestʼs sounding shell.
So see the plumes, in dark array,
Roll on their yet untrodden way,
Unbroken yet with dreadful sweep!
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Mark you that stormy, changeful deep?
Wave after wave is eddying on
And crested casque and morion
Flash frequent as the lightning flies
Among the armies of the skies.
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But fiercer storm is gathering now
Than ever broke on Alpine brow;
And wild shall the confusion be,—
The strife of that tremendous sea
When, bursting from the Alpine chain,
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It meets the storm on Cannæʼs plain. 5