Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Russia: Vol. XX. 1876–79.

Asiatic Russia: Caucasus, the Mountains


By Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)

(From Alastor)

AT midnight

The moon arose: and lo! the ethereal cliffs

Of Caucasus, whose icy summits shone

Among the stars like sunlight, and around

Whose caverned base the whirlpools and the waves

Bursting and eddying irresistibly

Rage and resound forever.

The noonday sun

Now shone upon the forest, one vast mass

Of mingling shade, whose brown magnificence

A narrow vale embosoms. There, huge caves,

Scooped in the dark base of those aery rocks,

Mocking its moans, respond and roar forever.

The meeting boughs and implicated leaves

Wove twilight o’er the post’s path, as led

By love, or dream, or God, or mightier Death,

He sought in Nature’s dearest haunt some bank,

Her cradle and his sepulchre. More dark

And dark the shades accumulate,—the oak,

Expanding its immeasurable arms,

Embraces the light beech. The pyramids

Of the tall cedar overarching, frame

Most solemn domes within, and far below,

Like clouds suspended in an emerald sky,

The ash and the acacia floating hang

Tremulous and pale. Like restless serpents, clothed

In rainbow and in fire, the parasites,

Starred with ten thousand blossoms, flow around

The gray trunks, and as gamesome infants’ eyes,

With gentle meanings and most innocent wiles,

Fold their beams round the hearts of those that love,

These twine their tendrils with the wedded boughs,

Uniting their close union; the woven leaves

Make network of the dark-blue light of day,

And the night’s noontide clearness, mutable

As shapes in the weird clouds. Soft mossy lawns

Beneath these canopies extend their swells,

Fragrant with perfumed herbs, and eyed with blooms

Minute yet beautiful. One darkest glen

Sends from its woods of musk-rose, twined with jasmine,

A soul-dissolving odor, to invite

To some more lovely mystery. Through the dell,

Silence and Twilight here, twin-sisters, keep

Their noonday watch, and sail among the shades

Like vaporous shapes half seen; beyond, a well,

Dark, gleaming, and of most translucent wave,

Images all the woven boughs above,

And each depending leaf, and every speck

Of azure sky, darting between their chasms:

Nor aught else in the liquid mirror laves

Its portraiture, but some inconstant star

Between one foliaged lattice twinkling fair,

Or painted bird, sleeping beneath the moon,

Or gorgeous insect floating motionless,

Unconscious of the day, ere yet his wings

Have spread their glories to the gaze of noon.