"There is a charmed peace that aye" ["The Alps from Schaffhausen"] [poem]
THE ALPS FROM SCHAFFHAUSEN. a
“It was drawing towards sunset when we got up to some sort of
garden promenade—west of the town, I believe; and high above
the Rhine, so as to command the open country across it to the south
and west. At which open country of low undulation, far into blue,—
gazing as at one of our own distances from Malvern of Worcester‐
shire
, or Dorking of Kent,—suddenly—behold—beyond!
“There was no thought in any of us for a moment of their being
clouds. They were clear as crystal, sharp on the pure horizon sky,
and already tinged with rose by the sinking sun. Infinitely beyond
all that we had ever thought or dreamed,—the seen walls of lost
Eden could not have been more beautiful to us; not more awful,
round heaven, the walls of sacred Death.” (Praeterita, I. vi)
Sabbath eve is sinking low 1
Oʼer the blue Rhineʼs sullen flow.
He has worn a prisoned way
ʼNeath the round hillsʼ bending sway.
Far and near their sides you see
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Gay with vivid greenery.
Many a branch and bough is bending
Oʼer the grey rocks, grim impending.
Danced the leaves on the bent twigs high,
Skeleton‐like on the evening sky.
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And the oaks threw wide their jaggèd spray
On their old, straight branches mossed and grey,
And the foam drove down on the waterʼs hue
Like a wreath of snow on the sapphireʼs blue.
And a wreath of mist curled faint and far,
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Where the cataract drove his dreadful war. 2
The Alps! the Alps!—it is no cloud
Wreathes the plain with its paly shroud!
The Alps! the Alps!—Full far away
The long successive ranges lay. 3
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Their fixed solidity of size
Told that they were not of the skies.
For could that rosy line of light,
Of unimaginable height,—
The moony gleam, so far that threw
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Its fixèd flash above the blue
Of the far hills and Rigiʼs crest 4
Yet russet from the flamy west,—
Were they not clouds, whose sudden change
Had bound them down, an icy range?—
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Was not the wondrous battlement
A thing of the domy firmament?
Are they of heaven, are they of air?
Or can earth bring forth a thing so fair?
Thereʼs beauty in the sky‐bound sea,
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With its noble sweep of infinity:
Thereʼs beauty in the sunʼs last fire,
When he lighteth up his funeral pyre:
There is loveliness in the heavenʼs hue,
And thereʼs beauty in the mountainʼs blue;
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But look on the Alps by the sunset quiver
And think on the moment thenceforward for ever! 5