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

Introductory to Switzerland


By James Thomson (1834–1882)

(From Liberty)

THE MOUNTAIN then, clad with eternal snow,

Confessed my power. Deep as the rampant rocks,

By Nature thrown insuperable round,

I planted there a league of friendly states,

And bade plain freedom there ambition be.

There in the vale, where rural Plenty fills,

From lakes, and meads, and furrowed fields, her horn,

Chief where the Leman pure emits the Rhone,

Rare to be seen! unguilty cities rise,

Cities of brothers formed; while equal life,

Accorded gracious with revolving power,

Maintains them free, and in their happy streets,

Nor cruel deed, nor misery, is known.

For valor, faith, and innocence of life

Renowned, a rough, laborious people there

Not only give the dreadful Alps to smile,

And press their culture on retiring snows;

But, to firm order trained and patient war,

They likewise know, beyond the nerve remiss

Of mercenary force, how to defend

The tasteful little their hard toil has earned,

And the proud arm of Bourbon to defy.

E’en, cheered by me, their shaggy mountains charm

More than or Gallic or Italian plains;

And sickening Fancy oft, when absent long,

Pines to behold their Alpine views again:

The hollow-winding stream; the vale, fair spread

Amid an amphitheatre of hills,

Whence, vapor-winged, the sudden tempest springs;

From steep to sleep ascending, the gay train

Of fogs, thick-rolled into romantic shapes;

The flitting cloud, against the summit dashed,

And, by the sun illumined, pouring bright

A gemmy shower; hung o’er amazing rocks,

The mountain ash, and solemn-sounding pine;

The snow-fed torrent, in white mazes tost,

Down to the clear ethereal lake below;

And, high o’ertopping all the broken scene,

The mountain fading into sky; where shines

On winter, winter shivering, and whose top

Licks from their cloudy magazine the snows.