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

Switzerland: Alps, The

The Alps

By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

BUT let us hence; for fair Locarno smiles

Embowered in walnut slopes and citron isles:

Or seek at eve the banks of Tusa’s stream,

Where, mid dim towers and woods, her waters gleam.

From the bright wave, in solemn gloom, retire

The dull-red steeps, and, darkening still, aspire

To where afar rich orange lustres glow

Round undistinguished clouds and rocks and snow:

Or, led where Via Mala’s chasms confine

The indignant waters of the infant Rhine,

Hang o’er the abyss: the else impervious gloom

His burning eyes with fearful light illume.


When rueful moans along the forest swell

Protracted, and the twilight storm foretell,

And, headlong from the cliffs, a deafening load

Tumbles, and wildering thunder slips abroad;

When on the summits darkness comes and goes,

Hiding their fiery clouds, their rocks and snows;

And the fierce torrent, from the lustre broad,

Starts, like a horse, beside the flashing road,—

She seeks a covert from the battering shower

In the roofed bridge; the bridge, in that dread hour,

Itself all quaking at the torrent’s power.


’T is morn: with gold the verdant mountain glows;

More high, the snowy peaks with hues of rose.

Far stretched beneath the many-tinted hills,

A mighty waste of mist the valley fills,

A solemn sea! whose billows wide around

Stand motionless, to awful silence bound;

Pines, on the coast, through mist their tops uprear,

That like to leaning masts of stranded ships appear.

A single chasm, a gulf of gloomy blue,

Gapes in the centre of the sea, and through

That dark mysterious gulf ascending, sound

Innumerable streams with roar profound.

Mount through the nearer vapors notes of birds,

And merry flageolet; the low of herds,

The bark of dogs, the heifer’s tinkling bell,

Talk, laughter, and perchance a church-tower knell.