crag I sat in wonder,
Stars above me, forests under;
Through the valleys came
Tempest forces never spent,
And the gorge sent up the thunder
the stream within it pent.
Round me with majestic bearing
Stood the giant mountains, wearing
Helmets of eternal snows,
Cleft by nature’s
faces mutely staring
Upward into God's repose.
At my feet in desolation
Swayed the pines, a shadowy nation,
Round the woodlake deep
the river glacier-fed,
Where a ghostly undulation
Shakes its subterranean
And I cried, “O wilderness!
Mountains! which the wind caresses,
a savage love sublime,
Through the bounds of space
All your moods and deep distresses
Roll around me like a chime.
“Lo, I hear the mighty chorus
elements that bore us
Down the course of nature’s
Onward in a haunted dream
Towards the darkness, where before us
Time and death forgotten
“Now behold the links of lightning
Round the neck of storm-god tightening,
Madden him with rage and
Till he smites the earth
In the darkening and the brightening
the clouds on which he came.
“Nature! at whose will are driven
Tides of ocean, winds of heaven,
Thou who rulest near and
Forces grappling sun and
thee the knowledge given
Whence these came and what
“Is thy calm the calm of knowing
Whence the force is, whither going?
Is it but the blank despair
the wrecked, who does not care
Out at sea what wind is blowing
To the death that waits
“Mother Nature, stern aggressor,
Of thy child the mind-possessor,
art in us like a flood,
Welling through our thought
Force evolving great from lesser,
As the blossom from the
“Yea, I love thy fixed, enduring
and seasons, life procuring
From abysmal heart of thine;
And my spirit would resign
All its dreams and hopes alluring
With thy spirit to combine.
“Would that I, amid the splendour
Of the thunder-blasts, could render
Back the dismal dole of
Fusing soul clouds in the
Of thy rock breasts, or the tender
of everlasting earth.
“Haply, when the scud was flying
And the lurid daylight dying
Through the rain-smoke
on the sea,
one with thee,
perfect bondage lying,
Should forever thus be free.
“Mighty spirits, who have striven
Up life’s ladder-rounds to heaven,
Or ye freighted ones who
the poppy slopes of hell,
When the soul was led or driven,
Knew ye not who wrought
“Understood not each his brother
From the features of our mother
on every human face?
Did not earth, man’s
Draw ye to her as no other,
With a stronger bond than
“Tempest hands the forests rending,
stars the night attending,
land and sea,
Nature!—make me one
From my soul its pinions rending,
Chain me to thy liberty.
“Hark! the foot of death is nearing,
And my spirit aches with fearing,
Hear me, mother, hear my
Merge me in the harmony
Of thy voice which stars are hearing
in the sky.
“Mother, will no sorrow move thee?
Does the silence heartless prove thee?
Thou who from the rocks
Mad’st this soul,
take back again
thy fingers wrought to love thee
Through the furnace of its
“Giant boulders, roll beside me,
Tangled ferns, bow down and hide me,
Hide me from the face
great Nature, on thy breath
Send some mighty words to guide me,
Till the demon vanisheth.”
Then as sweet as organ playing,
Came a voice, my fears allaying,
the mountains and the sea,
“Wouldst thou, soul,
be one with me,
In thy might the slayer slaying?
Wrestle not with what must
Heart and spirit in devotion,
with divine emotion,
Bowed before that mighty
And amid the dark around
Quaffed the strength of land and ocean
In a sacrament profound.
Then I burst my bonds asunder,
And my voice rose in the thunder
With a full and powerful
Strong for what great nature
And I bade the stars in wonder
me slay the slayer—death.