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Lord Byron (1788–1824). Poetry of Byron. 1881.

II. Descriptive and Narrative

Lake of Geneva—Storm

(Childe Harold, Canto iii. Stanzas 92–96.)

THY sky is changed!—and such a change! Oh night,

And storm, and darkness, ye are wondrous strong,

Yet lovely in your strength, as is the light

Of a dark eye in woman! Far along,

From peak to peak, the rattling crags among

Leaps the live thunder! Nor from one lone cloud,

But every mountain now hath found a tongue,

And Jura answers, through her misty shroud,

Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud!

And this is in the night:—Most glorious night!

Thou wert not sent for slumber! let me be

A sharer in thy fierce and far delight,

A portion of the tempest and of thee!

How the lit lake shines, a phosphoric sea,

And the big rain comes dancing to the earth!

And now again ’tis black,—and now, the glee

Of the loud hills shakes with its mountain-mirth,

As if they did rejoice o’er a young earthquake’s birth.

Now, where the swift Rhone cleaves his way between

Heights which appear as lovers who have parted

In hate, whose mining depths so intervene,

That they can meet no more, though broken-hearted!

Though in their souls, which thus each other thwarted,

Love was the very root of the fond rage

Which blighted their life’s bloom, and then departed:

Itself expired, but leaving them an age

Of years all winters,—war within themselves to wage.

Now, where the quick Rhone thus hath cleft his way,

The mightiest of the storms hath ta’en his stand:

For here, not one, but many make their play,

And fling their thunder-bolts from hand to hand,

Flashing and cast around: of all the band,

The brightest through these parted hills hath fork’d

His lightnings,—as if he did understand,

That in such gaps as desolation work’d,

There the hot shaft should blast whatever therein lurk’d.

Sky, mountains, river, winds, lake, lightnings! ye!

With night, and clouds, and thunder, and a soul

To make these felt and feeling, well may be

Things that have made me watchful; the far roll

Of your departing voices, is the knoll

Of what in me is sleepless,—if I rest.

But where of ye, oh tempests! is the goal?

Are ye like those within the human breast?

Or do ye find, at length, like eagles, some high nest?