Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE PASSAGE OF THE MOUNTAIN OF ST. GOTHARD. TO MY CHILDREN, by GEORGIANA (SPENCER) CAVENDISH



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THE PASSAGE OF THE MOUNTAIN OF ST. GOTHARD. TO MY CHILDREN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Ye plains, where threefold harvests press the ground
Last Line: And more -- o transport! -- reach its home and you.
Alternate Author Name(s): Devonshire, Duchess Of
Subject(s): Alps; Mountains; Travel; Hills; Downs (Great Britain); Journeys; Trips


Ye plains, where threefold harvests press the ground,
Ye climes, where genial gales incessant swell,
Where Art and Nature shed profusely round
Their rival wonders -- Italy, farewell!

Still may thy year in fullest splendour shine!
Its icy darts in vain may Winter throw!
To thee a parent, sister, I consign,
And wing'd with health, I woo thy gales to blow.

Yet pleas'd Helvetia's rugged brows I see,
And through their craggy steeps delighted roam;
Pleas'd with a people, honest, brave, and free,
Whilst every step conducts me nearer home.

I wander where Tesino madly flows,
From cliff to cliff in foaming eddies tost;
On the rude mountain's barren breast he rose,
In Po's broad wave now hurries to be lost.

His shores neat huts and verdant pastures fill,
And hills where woods of pine the storm defy;
While, scorning vegetation, higher still
Rise the bare rocks, coeval with the sky.

Upon his banks a favour'd spot I found,
Where shade and beauty tempted to repose:
Within a grove, by mountains circled round,
By rocks o'erhung, my rustic seat I chose.

Advancing thence, by gentle pace and slow,
Unconscious of the way my footsteps prest,
Sudden, supported by the hills below,
St. Gothard's summits rose above the rest.

Midst towering cliffs, and tracts of endless cold,
The' industrious path pervades the rugged stone,
And seems -- Helvetia! let thy toils be told --
A granite girdle o'er the mountain thrown.

No haunt of man the weary traveller greets,
No vegetation smiles upon the moor,
Save where the floweret breathes uncultur'd sweets,
Save where the patient monk receives the poor.

Yet let not these rude paths be coldly traced,
Let not these wilds with listless steps be trod;
Here fragrance scorns not to perfume the waste,
Here charity uplifts the mind to God.

His humble board the holy man prepares,
And simple food and wholesome lore bestows;
Extols the treasures that his mountain bears,
And paints the perils of impending snows.

For whilst bleak Winter numbs with chilling hand,
Where frequent crosses mark the traveller's fate,
In slow procession moves the merchant band,
And silent treads where tottering ruins wait.

Yet, midst those ridges, midst that drifted snow,
Can Nature deign her wonders to display;
Here Adularia shines with vivid glow,
And gems of crystal sparkle to the day.

Here, too, the hoary mountain's brow to grace,
Five silver lakes in tranquil state are seen;
While from their waters many a stream we trace,
That, scap'd from bondage, rolls the rocks between.

Hence flows the Reuss to seek her wedded love,
And, with the Rhine, Germanic climes explore;
Her stream I mark'd, and saw her wildly move
Down the bleak mountain, through her craggy shore.

My weary footsteps hop'd for rest in vain,
For steep on steep in rude confusion rose:
At length I paus'd above a fertile plain,
That promis'd shelter, and foretold repose.

Fair runs the streamlet o'er the pasture green,
Its margin gay, with flocks and cattle spread;
Embowering trees the peaceful village screen,
And guard from snow each dwelling's jutting shed.

Sweet vale! whose bosom wastes and cliffs surround,
Let me awhile thy friendly shelter share!
Emblem of life! where some bright hours are found
Amidst the darkest, dreariest years of care.

Delv'd through the rock, the secret passage bends;
And beauteous horror strikes the dazzled sight;
Beneath the pendent bridge the stream descends
Calm -- till it tumbles o'er the frowning height.

We view the fearful pass -- we wind along
The path that marks the terrors of our way --
Midst beetling rocks, and hanging woods among,
The torrent pours, and breathes its glittering spray

Weary at length, serener scenes we hail --
More cultur'd groves o'ershade the grassy meads;
The neat though wooden hamlets deck the vale,
And Altorf's spires recall heroic deeds.

But though no more amidst those scenes I roam,
My fancy long each image shall retain --
The flock returning to its welcome home,
And the wild carol of the cow-herd's strain.

Lucernia's lake its glassy surface shows,
Whilst Nature's varied beauties deck its side;
Here rocks and woods its narrow waves enclose,
And there its spreading bosom opens wide.

And hail the chapel! hail the platform wild!
Where Tell directed the avenging dart,
With well-strung arm, that first preserv'd his child,
Then wing'd the arrow to the tyrant's heart.

Across the lake, and deep embower'd in wood,
Behold another hallow'd chapel stand,
Where three Swiss heroes lawless force withstood,
And stamp'd the freedom of their native land.

Their liberty required no rites uncouth,
No blood demanded, and no slaves enchained;
Her rule was gentle, and her voice was truth,
By social order form'd, by laws restrain'd.

We quit the lake -- and cultivation's toil,
With Nature's charms combin'd, adorns the way;
And well-earn'd wealth improves the ready soil,
And simple manners still maintain their sway.

Farewell, Helvetia! from whose lofty breast
Proud Alps arise, and copious rivers flow;
Where, source of streams, eternal glaciers rest,
And peaceful Science gilds the plain below.

Oft on thy rocks the wondering eye shall gaze,
Thy valleys oft the raptur'd bosom seek --
There, Nature's hand her boldest work displays,
Here, bliss domestic beams on every cheek.

Hope of my life! dear children of my heart!
That anxious heart, to each fond feeling true,
To you still pants each pleasure to impart,
And more -- O transport! -- reach its home and you.





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