Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Switzerland and Austria: Vol. XVI. 1876–79.

Switzerland: Lucerne


By William Lisle Bowles (1762–1850)

(From The Sorrow of Switzerland)

SHORES of Lucerne! where many a winding bay

Shone beauteous to the morn’s returning ray;

Where rosy tints upon the blue lake shone,

And touched the rock with colors not their own;

Who now, with eyes that swim in tenderness,

Those scenes to every virtue dear shall bless!

What pleasure now can the rich landscape yield,

The sparkling cataract, the pendent field,

Mid hoar declivities, the sunny tower

Peering o’er beeches that its roof embower,

And cottage tops with light smoke trailing slow

O’er the gray vapors looming far below!

Who shall ascend proud Pilate’s height, and mark

The motley clouds sail o’er the champaign dark,

Now breaking in fantastic forms, and now

Dappling the distant promontory’s brow?

Then when the sun, that lights the scene, rides high,

And far away the scattered volumes fly,

Look up to the great God that rules the world,

By whom proud empires from their seats are hurled,

And feel a glow of holy gratitude,

That here, mid hollow glens and mountains rude,

Far from Ambition’s march and Discord’s yell,

Content with Love and Happiness should dwell.

Who now along those banks shall, listening, stray,

When evening lights each inlet west away,

And hear the solitary boatman’s oar

Dip duly as he nears the shaded shore;

Or catch the whispers of the waterfall

That through the ivied clefts swell musical?

These scenes, these sounds, could many a joy impart,

With sadness mixed. The wandering youth, whose heart

Was sick with many sorrows, resting here

At such an hour, forgot his starting tear;

He felt a pensive calm, sweeter than sleep,

Steal gently o’er his aching breast; the deep

And clear repose of the unruffled lake

His spirit seemed, unconscious, to partake;

And still the water, as it whispered near,

Or high woods, as they rustled, soothed his ear,

Like the remembrance of a melody

Heard in his infant, happy years gone by.

Now in his distant country, when, with tears,

The tale of ruffian violence he hears;

Hears that the spot which smiled with lovely gleam,

Like some sweet image of a tender dream,

Upon his morning path, is drenched with gore,

Its harmless tenants weltering on the shore;

He will exclaim, whilst from his breast he draws

A deep, deep sigh, “Avenge, O God, their cause!”