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Hymn before Sun-Rise, in the Vale of Chamouni

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge


Besides the Rivers, Arve and Arveiron, which have their sources in the foot of Mont Blanc, five conspicuous torrents rush down its sides; and within a few paces of the Glaciers, the Gentiana Major grows in immense numbers, with its "flowers of loveliest blue."
Hast thou a charm to stay the morning-star 
In his steep course? So long he seems to pause 
On thy bald awful head, O sovran Blanc, 
The Arve and Arveiron at thy base 
Rave ceaselessly; but thou, most awful Form! 
Risest  from forth thy silent sea of pines, 
How silently! Around thee and above 
Deep is the air and dark, substantial, black,  
An ebon mass: methinks thou piercest it, 
As with a wedge! But when I look again, 		10
It is thine own calm home, thy crystal shrine, 
Thy habitation from eternity! 
O dread and silent Mount! I gazed upon thee, 
Till thou, still present to the bodily sense, 
Didst vanish from my thought: entranced in prayer 
I worshipped the Invisible alone. 
Yet, like some sweet beguiling melody, 
So sweet, we know not we are listening to it: 
Thou, the meanwhile, wast blending with my Thought, 
Yea, with my Life and Life's own secret joy:  		20
Till the dilating Soul, enrapt, transfused, 
Into the mighty vision passing -- there 
As in her natural form, swelled vast to Heaven! 
Awake, my soul! not only passive praise 
Thou owest! not alone these swelling tears, 
Mute thanks and secret ecstasy! Awake 
Voice of sweet song! Awake, my heart, awake! 
Green vales and icy cliffs, all join my Hymn. 
Thou first and chief, sole sovereign of the Vale! 
O struggling with the darkness all the night, 		30
And visited all night by troops of stars, 
Or when they climb the sky or when they sink: 
Companion of the morning-star at dawn,  
Thyself Earth's rosy star, and of the dawn 
Co-herald: wake, O wake, and utter praise! 
Who sank thy sunless pillars deep in Earth? 
Who filled thy countenance with rosy light? 
Who made thee parent of perpetual streams? 
And you, ye five wild torrents fiercely glad! 
Who called you forth from night and utter death, 	40
From dark and icy caverns called you forth, 
Down those precipitous, black, jagged rocks, 
For ever shattered and the same for ever?  
Who gave you your invulnerable life, 
Your strength, your speed, your fury, and your joy, 
Unceasing thunder and eternal foam? 
And who commanded (and the silence came), 
Here let the billows stiffen, and have rest? 
Ye Ice-falls! ye that from the mountain's brow 
Adown enormous ravines slope amain -- 			50
Torrents, methinks, that heard a mighty voice, 
And stopped at once amid their maddest plunge! 
Motionless torrents! silent cataracts! 
Who made you glorious as the Gates of Heaven 
Beneath the keen full moon? Who bade the sun 
Clothe you with rainbows?  Who, with living flowers 
Of loveliest blue, spread garlands at your feet? -- 
God! let the torrents, like a shout of nations,  
Answer! and let the ice-plains echo, God! 
God! sing ye meadow-streams with gladsome voice!   	60
Ye pine-groves, with your soft and soul-like sounds! 
And they too have a voice, yon piles of snow 
And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God! 

Ye living flowers that skirt the eternal frost! 
Ye wild goats sporting round the eagle's nest! 
Ye eagles, play-mates of the mountain-storm! 
Ye lightnings, the dread arrows of the clouds! 
Ye signs and wonders of the element! 
Utter forth God, and fill the hills with praise! 
Thou too, hoar Mount! with thy sky-pointing peaks 	70
Oft from whose feet the avalanche, unheard, 
Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene 
Into the depth of clouds, that veil thy breast --  
Thou too again, stupendous Mountain! thou 
That as I raise my head, awhile bowed low 
In adoration, upward from thy base 
Slow travelling with dim eyes suffused with tears, 
Solemnly seemest, like a vapoury cloud, 
To rise before me -- Rise, O ever rise, 
Rise like a cloud of incense from the Earth! 		80
Thou kingly Spirit throned among the hills, 
Thou dread ambassador from Earth to Heaven, 
Great Hierarch! tell thou the silent sky, 
And tell the stars, and tell yon rising sun 
Earth, with her thousand voices, praises God.