|←Lines to one who wished to read a poem I had written||An imitation by
from Poems (1848)
|Day-dawn in Italy→|
As once I dreamed, methought I strayed
Within a snow-clad mountain's shade;
From whose far height the silence bore
One charméd word, "Excelsior!"
And, as upon my soul it fell,
It bound me with a fearful spell;
It shut the sweet vale from my sight,
And called me up that dazzling height.
I could not choose but heed its tone,
And climb that dreary path alone;
And now around me hung the gloom,
Where the storm-spirit makes his home.
Upon my head the tempests beat;
Dark caverns opened at my feet;
The thunders rolled, the lightnings flashed
And fierce the swollen torrents dashed.
'Twas gained, that mountain's stormy pass;
But, chilled beside a mer de glace,
My heavy heart in vain would soar, --
The heart hears not "Excelsior!"
The heart's home is the vale below,
Where kind words greet, where fond eyes glow;
It withers 'neath those frozen skies,
Where the aspiring thought would rise.
Above me the eternal snows
In the cold sunlight's glare arose,
And a dread Presence seemed to brood
O'er the appalling solitude.
But now, on that unquiet dream,
Did one of stateliest aspect beam;
Whose brow thought's kingly impress bore,
Whose soul thrilled to "Excelsior!"
Though but one moment o'er my way
Did the bright form beside me stay;
In that pale brow and speaking eye,
Methought I saw my Destiny!
And as, far up the heaven-crowned height,
Thou seem'dst to vanish from my sight;
Thine image yet beside me stood,
And filled the voiceless solitude.
No longer drear that mountain waste.
For o'er its snows thy steps had passed;
No longer dread, in upper air,
That mountain's crest, for thou wert there!
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.