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!