Often rebuked, yet always back returning To those first feelings that were born with me, And leaving busy chase of wealth and learning For idle dreams of things that cannot be: To-day, I will seek not the shadowy region; Its unsustaining vastness waxes drear; And visions rising, legion after legion, Bring the unreal world too strangely near. I'll walk, but not in old heroic traces, And not in paths of high morality, And not among the half-distinguished faces, The clouded forms of long-past history. I'll walk where my own nature would be leading: It vexes me to choose another guide: Where the gray flocks in ferny glens are feeding; Where the wild wind blows on the mountain side. What have those lonely mountains worth revealing? More glory and more grief than I can tell: The earth that wakes one human heart to feeling Can centre both the worlds of Heaven and Hell.
O transient voyager of heaven!
O silent sign of winter skies!
What adverse wind thy sail has driven
To dungeons where a prisoner lies?
Methinks the hands that shut the sun
So sternly from this morning’s brow
Might still their rebel task have done
And checked a thing so frail as thou.
They would have done it had they known
The talisman that dwelt in thee,
For all the suns that ever shone
Have never been so kind to me!
For many a week, and many a day
My heart was weighed with sinking gloom
When morning rose in mourning grey
And faintly lit my prison room
But angel like, when I awoke,
Thy silvery form so soft and fair
Shining through darkness, sweetly spoke
Of cloudy skies and mountains bare;
The dearest to a mountaineer
Who, all life long has loved the snow
That crowned her native summits drear,
Better, than greenest plains below.
And voiceless, soulless, messenger
Thy presence waked a thrilling tone
That comforts me while thou art here
And will sustain when thou art gone