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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.

Introductory to Savoy

In High Savoy

By Francis Turner Palgrave (1824–1897)

NATURE’S fair, fruitless, aimless world

Men take and mould at will:

Scoop havens from the wasteful sea;

Tame heaths to green fertility,

And grind their roadway through the hill.

Another aspect now she dons,

Changed by the hands of men;

What harvest plains of golden hope,

What vineyards on the amber slope,

What lurid forge-lights in the glen!

Yet still some relic she reserves

Of what was all her own;

Keeps the wild surface of the moor,

Or where the glacier-torrents roar,

Reigns o’er gray piles of wrinkled stone.

And though man’s daily strengthening sway

Contracts her precinct fair,

Yet round smooth sweeps of vine-set land

Her vaporous ranks of summit stand

As ghosts in morning’s silent air:

Or on vast slopes unploughed, untrod,

She vindicates her right;

Green billows of primeval copse,

Tossing a myriad spiry tops

’Neath the full zenith-flood of light.

Or where, whilst o’er Rhone’s azure lake

Heaven’s azure stainless lies,

From the White Mount the white clouds strike,

As if volcano-born, or like

The smoke of some great sacrifice.