Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  My Alpenstock

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

Introductory to Switzerland

My Alpenstock

By Henry Glassford Bell (1803–1874)

BEST of artists! mark for me,

On my trusty alpenstock,

All the proper things, d’ ye see,

Every mountain, every rock:

That when I go home therewith,

Friends may know that I have been

Quite as high as Albert Smith,

Or balloon of Mr. Green.

Mark it with the Righi first;

Some say that ’s an easy hill,

Yet I own the place accurst

Found me at the bottom still.

Then the Brunig, mark it strong,

Truth itself can’t take offence,

All that height I came along,

Rattling in the diligence.

Mark it with the Yungfrau next,

Very few have ventured on her;

That I did not I am vext,

For I meant it, on my honor!

From Martigny by Tête Noir,

Or the Col de Balme they pace;

I said only “au revoir,”

When I saw the kind of place:

But I saw it; therefore paint it,

Paint in letters bold and broad;

’T is a pleasant proverb, ain’t it,

That a wink ’s as good ’s a nod.

Artist, deeply now indent

Scheideck where I played the fool,

Sore and saddle-sick I went

Up and down upon a mule.

Mark the Ghemmi; all confess,

He who has ascended it

Need not talk of breathlessness,

Is for any mountain fit:

I went there and hired my guide,

With a fear I don’t conceal,

But the scheme went all aside,

For a nail ran up my heel.

Mark it lastly with Mont Blanc,

Though it made me gasp and quake,

With a kind of mortal pang,

Just to view it from the lake.

Thanks, my artist! now I go

Back to London with delight,

For my alpenstock will show

What becomes a man of might.

When I take it to my club,

Jones himself will cease to sneer;

Brown will own, the spiteful cub,

That my legs are no small beer.