Poems (Botta)/An Imitation

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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!