"Via Mala" [poem]
VIA MALA. 1
OUR path is on the precipice!
How far, far down those waters hiss
That like an avalanche below
Whirl on a stream of foamy snow! 2
Iʼve seen the Rhine when in his pride,
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5

All unresisted, undefied,
Rolled smoothly on his aged tide.
Iʼve seen the Rhine with younger wave
Oʼer every obstacle to rave.
I see the Rhine in his native wild
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10

Is still a mighty mountain‐child,—
How rocked upon his tortuous bed!
Came up, from the abyss of dread,
The deafening roar with softened sound,—
Murmuring up from the profound
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15

Of distance dark, where light of day
Pierced not the thick, damp, twilight grey,
To the precipices sharp and sheer
Whence the white foam looked up so clear.
On looking oʼer the barrier
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20

From that rock‐shelf, that hung so high
ʼTwixt the far depth and the blue sky,
Above, beside, around there stood
The difficult crags in order rude
Soaring to the thin, cold upper air,—
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25

Looked forth unnaturally clear,
Jagged with many a piny spear.
And here and there a patch of snow
Contrasted strangely with the glow
Of the red, rough, mighty cliffs, and shed
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30

A strange, cold light through the yawning dread
Of the abyssy gulph below.