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

Mexico: Popocatepetl, the Mountain


By William Haines Lytle (1826–1863)


PALE peak, afar

Gilds thy white pinnacle a single star,

While sharply on the deep blue sky thy snows

In deathlike calm repose.

The nightingale

Through Mira Flores bowers repeats her tale,

And every rose its perfumed censer swings

With vesper offerings.

But not for thee,

Diademed king, this love-born minstrelsy,

Nor yet the tropic gales that gently blow

Through these blessed vales below.


Deep in thy heart

Burn on vast fires, struggling to rend apart

Their prison walls, and then in wrath be hurled

Blazing upon the world.

In vain conspire

Against thy majesty tempests and fire;

The elemental wars of madness born,

Serene, thou laugh’st to scorn.

Calm art thou now

As when the Aztec, on thine awful brow,

Gazed on some eve like this from Chalco’s shore,

Where lives his name no more.

And thou hast seen

Glitter in dark defiles the ominous sheen

Of lances, and hast heard the battle-cry

Of Castile’s chivalry.

And yet again

Hast seen strange banners steering o’er the main,

When from his eyrie soared to conquest forth

The eagle of the North.

Yet at thy feet,

While rolling on, the tides of empire beat,

Thou art, O mountain, on thy world-piled throne,

Of all, unchanged alone.

Type of a power

Supreme, thy solemn silence at this hour

Speaks to the nations of the Almighty Word

Which at thy birth was stirred.

Prophet sublime!

Wide on the morning’s wings will float the chime

Of martial horns; yet mid the din thy spell

Shall sway me still,—farewell.