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

Switzerland: Thun, the Lake

The Chartreuse on the Lake of Thun

By Nathaniel Langdon Frothingham (1793–1870)

NO more of cities, with their proud cathedrals,

And pomp and pleasures of their trampled ways.

Of bounds of empire, and of nations’ quarrels,

I write no more. Upon “Louisa’s Rest”

Alone I sit. Its canopy of thatch

Fends off the sun; while tender memories,

That are not mine, seem floating vaguely round me.

A sweeter picture looks from out the lake

Than hangs within the famed Pinacothek

Of Munich, or in Dresden’s long-drawn halls.

Before me rise the domes and pinnacles

Of nature’s temples to the God of nature,

From his own hand; all shining stainless white,

So as no art on earth could whiten them.

No sound is there but of the lighting snow,

And driving wind, and avalanche. No wing

Of bird can scale those inaccessible heights,

Or beat in that thin air. Man plants no footstep

Upon those trackless wastes; claims no dominion

O’er these wide bounds. Here his pretension stops.

I gaze upon you with unsated eye,

Ye changeless, ever changing on the sight!

Far on the better hand, the Blumlis Alp

Spreads its vast slopes, and closes up the scene

On that side. Full in front, and on the left,

Stand forth the wondrous Three, to me the peerless.

Eastmost, the Eiger with his rigid share

Furrows the sky. The Monk is next in place,

Not all unfitly named. The cowl hangs down

Over its ample brow. The folded snows

Are sleeves and trailing garments. But the Maid!

O crown of beauty! If the Savoyard

Is called the king of mountains, surely thee

All hearts pay homage to, and hail as queen.

Say, is it fancy only, as, methinks,

The Jungfrau wears the semblance of a woman?

Or who will think I lower it, when I trace

This gentlest likeness on so dread a height?

A pale face, not too pale for beauty, shines,

Framed round in shadows, near the mountain’s top;

The top itself a covering for the head,

Slightly aslant set on, as best becomes it;

The white plume floating down o’er miles of space.

And now I go, looking my last upon you.

I saw you through the haze from Rigi Culm;

You rose in pride o’er tinkling Interlaken,

And talked to me across the Wengern Alp.

And this is past. My blessing be on those,

Who in all time shall thus salute and leave you.

I shall see other mountains; Wetterhorns,

Schreckhorns; and Faulhorns, that men love to climb;

Some sprinkled scantily with frost, and some

Thick with eternal winter; others yet,

Enormous saws of sharp and splintered crag,

Which the soft snows refuse to cover up,

With ruin at their feet,—like lubber giants,

That stone the traveller, and crush the village

Of wretched dwellers in such wretched spots.

Mont Blanc will tower o’er narrow Chamounix,

And stretch to far Sallenche its breadths of glory.

But you, ye matchless Three, I lose forever,

Save in the memory of this scene and hour.

Farewell thy leafy quiet, and thy lake

Rimmed as with sculptured silver, sweet Chartreuse.