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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.

Wales: Cader Idris

The Rock of Cader Idris

By Felicia Hemans (1793–1835)

  • It is an old tradition of the Welsh bards, that on the summit of the mountain Cader Idris is an excavation resembling a couch; and that whoever should pass a night in that hollow would be found in the morning either dead, in a frenzy, or endowed with the highest poetical inspiration.

  • I LAY on that rock where the storms have their dwelling,

    The birthplace of phantoms, the home of the cloud;

    Around it forever deep music is swelling,

    The voice of the mountain wind solemn and loud.

    ’T was a midnight of shadows all fitfully streaming,

    Of wild waves and breezes, that mingle their moan;

    Of dim shrouded stars, as from gulfs faintly gleaming;

    And I met the dread gloom of its grandeur alone.

    I lay there in silence,—a spirit came o’er me;

    Man’s tongue hath no language to speak what I saw;

    Things glorious, unearthly, passed floating before me,

    And my heart almost fainted with rapture and awe.

    I viewed the dread beings around us that hover,

    Though veiled by the mists of mortality’s breath;

    And I called upon darkness the vision to cover,

    For a strife was within me of madness and death.

    I saw them,—the powers of the wind and the ocean,

    The rush of whose pinion bears onward the storms;

    Like the sweep of the white-rolling wave was their motion,—

    I felt their dim presence, but knew not their forms!

    I saw them,—the mighty of ages departed,—

    The dead were around me that night on the hill:

    From their eyes, as they passed, a cold radiance they darted,—

    There was light on my soul, but my heart’s blood was chill.

    I saw what man looks on, and dies,—but my spirit

    Was strong, and triumphantly lived through that hour;

    And, as from the grave, I awoke to inherit

    A flame all immortal, a voice, and a power!

    Day burst on that rock with the purple cloud crested,

    And high Cader Idris rejoiced in the sun;

    But O, what new glory all nature invested,

    When the sense which gives soul to her beauty was won!