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

Introductory to Switzerland


By Oliver Goldsmith (1730–1774)

(From The Traveller)

MY soul, turn from them; turn we to survey

Where rougher climes a nobler race display,

Where the bleak Swiss their stormy mansion tread,

And force a churlish soil for scanty bread.

No product here the barren hills afford,

But man and steel, the soldier and his sword.

No vernal blooms their torpid rocks array,

But winter, lingering, chills the lap of May;

No zephyr fondly sues the mountain’s breast,

But meteors glare and stormy glooms invest.

Yet still, e’en here, content can spread a charm,

Redress the clime, and all its rage disarm.

Though poor the peasant’s hut, his feasts though small,

He sees his little lot the lot of all;

Sees no contiguous palace rear its head

To shame the meanness of his humble shed;

No costly lord the sumptuous banquet deal

To make him loathe his vegetable meal;

But calm, and bred in ignorance and toil,

Each wish contracting, fits him to the soil.

Cheerful at morn, he wakes from short repose,

Breathes the keen air, and carols as he goes;

With patient angle trolls the finny deep,

Or drives his venturous ploughshare to the steep;

Or seeks the den where snow-tracks mark the way,

And drags the struggling savage into day.

At night returning, every labor sped,

He sits him down the monarch of a shed:

Smiles by his cheerful fire, and round surveys,

His children’s looks, that brighten at the blaze;

While his loved partner, boastful of her hoard,

Displays her cleanly platter on the board;

And haply too some pilgrim thither led,

With many a tale repays the nightly bed.

Thus every good his native wilds impart

Imprints the patriot passion on his heart;

And e’en those ills that round his mansion rise

Enhance the bliss his scanty funds supplies.

Dear is that shed to which his soul conforms,

And dear that hill which lifts him to the storms;

And as a child, when scaring sounds molest,

Clings close and closer to the mother’s breast,

So the loud torrent and the whirlwind’s roar

But bind him to his native mountains more.