Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.

Soracte, the Mountain


By Lord Byron (1788–1824)

(From Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage)

ONCE more upon the woody Apennine,

The infant Alps, which—had I not before

Gazed on their mightier parents, where the pine

Sits on more shaggy summits, and where roar

The thundering lauwine—might be worshipped more;

But I have seen the soaring Jungfrau rear

Her never-trodden snow, and seen the hoar

Glaciers of bleak Mont Blanc both far and near,

And in Chimari heard the thunder-hills of fear,

The Acroceraunian mountains of old name;

And on Parnassus seen the eagles fly

Like spirits of the spot, as ’t were for fame,

For still they soared unutterably high:

I ’ve looked on Ida with a Trojan’s eye;

Athos, Olympus,—Ætna, Atlas, made

These hills seem things of lesser dignity,

All, save the lone Soracte’s height, displayed

Not now in snow, which asks the lyric Roman’s aid.

For our remembrance, and from out the plain

Heaves like a long-swept wave about to break,

And on the curl hangs pausing: not in vain

May he, who will, his recollections rake

And quote in classic raptures, and awake

The hills with Latian echoes; I abhorred

Too much to conquer for the poet’s sake

The drilled dull lesson, forced down word by word

In my repugnant youth, with pleasure to record

Aught that recalls the daily drug which turned

My sickening memory; and though time hath taught

My mind to meditate what then it learned,

Yet such the fixed inveteracy wrought

By the impatience of my early thought,

That, with the freshness wearing out before

My mind could relish what it might have sought,

If free to choose, I cannot now restore

Its health; but what it then detested, still abhor.

Then farewell, Horace; whom I hated so,

Not for thy faults, but mine: it is a curse

To understand, not feel thy lyric flow,

To comprehend, but never love thy verse:

Although no deeper moralist rehearse

Our little life, nor bard prescribe his art,

Nor livelier satirist the conscience pierce,

Awakening without wounding the touched heart,

Yet fare thee well,—upon Soracte’s ridge we part.