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LAKE OF GENEVA
(CANTO III, lxxxv-lxxxvii, xcii-xcvii) Clear, placid Leman! thy contrasted lake, With the wild world I dwelt in, is a thing Which warns me, with its stillness, to forsake Earth's troubled waters for a purer spring. This quiet sail is as a noiseless wing To waft me from distraction; once I loved Torn ocean's roar, but thy soft murmuring Sounds sweet as if a Sister's voice reproved, That I with. stern delights should e'er have been so moved.
It is the hush of night, and all between
Thy margin and the mountains, dusk, yet clear, Mellow'd and mingling, yet distinctly seen, Save darken'd Jura, whose capt heights appear Precipitously steep; and drawing near, There breathes a living fragrance from the shore, Of flowers yet fresh. with childhood; on the ear Drops the light drip of the suspended oar, Or chirps the grasshopper one good-night carol more;
He is an evening reveller, who makes
The sky is changed !—and such a change! Oh night,
From peak to peak, the rattling crags among Leaps the live thunder! Not 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
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
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
Sky, mountains, river, winds, lake, lightnings! ye!
Things that have made me watchful; the far roll
But where of ye, O tempests! is the goal?
Are ye like those within the human breast? Or do ye find, at length, like eagles, some high
Could I embody and unbosom now
That which is most within me,-could I wreak
With a most voiceless thought, sheathing it as a sword.
(CANTO III, xcix-civ)
Clarens! sweet Clarens, birthplace of deep Love! Thine air is the young breath of passionate thought; Thy trees take root in Love; the snows above The very Glaciers have his colours caught, And sun-set into rose-hues sees them wrought By rays which sleep there lovingly: the rocks, The permanent crags, tell here of Love, who sought In them a refuge from the worldly shocks, Which stir and sting the soul with hope that woos, then mocks.
Clarens! by heavenly feet thy paths are trod,—
Not on those summits solely, nor alone In the still cave and forest; o'er the flower His eye is sparkling, and his breath hath blown, His soft and summer breath, whose tender power Passes the strength of storms in their most desolate hour.
All things are here of him; from the black pines, Which are his shade on high, and the loud roar Of torrents, where he listeneth, to the vines Which slope his green path downward to the shore, Where the bow'd waters meet him, and adore, Kissing his feet with murmurs; and the wood, The covert of old trees, with trunks all hoar, But light leaves, young as joy, stands where it stood, Offering to him, and his, a populous solitude.
A populous solitude of bees and birds, And fairy-form'd and many-colour'd things, Who worship him with notes more sweet than words, And innocently open their glad wings, Fearless and full of life: the gush of springs, And fall of lofty fountains, and the bend Of stirring branches, and the bud which brings The swiftest thought of beauty, here extend, Mingling, and made by Love, unto one mighty end.
He who hath loved not, here would learn that lore,
For 'tis his nature to advance or die;
He stands not still, but or decays, or grows Into a boundless blessing, which may vie With the immortal lights, in its eternity!
'Twas not for fiction chose Rousseau this spot, Peopling it with affections; but he found It was the scene which Passion must allot To the mind's purified beings; 'twas the ground Where early Love his Psyche's zone unbound, And hallow'd it with loveliness: 'tis lone, And wonderful, and deep, and hath a sound, And sense, and sight of sweetness; here the Rhone Hath spread himself a couch, the Alps have reared a throne.
GIBBON AND VOLTAIRE
(CANTO III, cv-cviii)
Lausanne! and Ferney! ye have been the abodes
They were gigantic minds, and their steep aim
Thoughts which should call down thunder, and the flame
Of Heaven again assail'd, if Heaven the while On man and man's research could deign do more than smile.
The one was fire and fickleness, a child Most mutable in wishes, but in mind A wit as various,—gay, grave, sage, or wild,— Historian, bard, philosopher, combined; He multiplied himself among mankind, The Proteus of their talents: But his own Breathed most in ridicule,-which, as the wind, Blew where it listed, laying all things prone,Now to o'erthrow a fool, and now to shake a throne