Mount Snowdon section from Wordsworth's The Prelude (1850)

 

 

                    IN one of those excursions (may they ne'er
                    Fade from remembrance!) through the Northern tracts
                    Of Cambria ranging with a youthful friend,
                    I left Bethgelert's huts at couching-time,
                    And westward took my way, to see the sun
                    Rise, from the top of Snowdon. To the door
                    Of a rude cottage at the mountain's base
                    We came, and roused the shepherd who attends
                    The adventurous stranger's steps, a trusty guide;
                    Then, cheered by short refreshment, sallied forth.          10

                      It was a close, warm, breezeless summer night,
                    Wan, dull, and glaring, with a dripping fog
                    Low-hung and thick that covered all the sky;
                    But, undiscouraged, we began to climb
                    The mountain-side. The mist soon girt us round,
                    And, after ordinary travellers' talk
                    With our conductor, pensively we sank
                    Each into commerce with his private thoughts:
                    Thus did we breast the ascent, and by myself
                    Was nothing either seen or heard that checked               20
                    Those musings or diverted, save that once
                    The shepherd's lurcher, who, among the crags,
                    Had to his joy unearthed a hedgehog, teased
                    His coiled-up prey with barkings turbulent.
                    This small adventure, for even such it seemed
                    In that wild place and at the dead of night,
                    Being over and forgotten, on we wound
                    In silence as before. With forehead bent
                    Earthward, as if in opposition set
                    Against an enemy, I panted up                               30
                    With eager pace, and no less eager thoughts.
                    Thus might we wear a midnight hour away,
                    Ascending at loose distance each from each,
                    And I, as chanced, the foremost of the band;
                    When at my feet the ground appeared to brighten,
                    And with a step or two seemed brighter still;
                    Nor was time given to ask or learn the cause,
                    For instantly a light upon the turf
                    Fell like a flash, and lo! as I looked up,
                    The Moon hung naked in a firmament                          40
                    Of azure without cloud, and at my feet
                    Rested a silent sea of hoary mist.
                    A hundred hills their dusky backs upheaved
                    All over this still ocean; and beyond,
                    Far, far beyond, the solid vapours stretched,
                    In headlands, tongues, and promontory shapes,
                    Into the main Atlantic, that appeared
                    To dwindle, and give up his majesty,
                    Usurped upon far as the sight could reach.
                    Not so the ethereal vault; encroachment none                50
                    Was there, nor loss; only the inferior stars
                    Had disappeared, or shed a fainter light
                    In the clear presence of the full-orbed Moon,
                    Who, from her sovereign elevation, gazed
                    Upon the billowy ocean, as it lay
                    All meek and silent, save that through a rift--
                    Not distant from the shore whereon we stood,
                    A fixed, abysmal, gloomy, breathing-place--
                    Mounted the roar of waters, torrents, streams
                    Innumerable, roaring with one voice!                        60
                    Heard over earth and sea, and, in that hour,
                    For so it seemed, felt by the starry heavens.

                      When into air had partially dissolved
                    That vision, given to spirits of the night
                    And three chance human wanderers, in calm thought
                    Reflected, it appeared to me the type
                    Of a majestic intellect, its acts
                    And its possessions, what it has and craves,
                    What in itself it is, and would become.
                    There I beheld the emblem of a mind                         70
                    That feeds upon infinity, that broods
                    Over the dark abyss, intent to hear
                    Its voices issuing forth to silent light
                    In one continuous stream; a mind sustained
                    By recognitions of transcendent power,
                    In sense conducting to ideal form,
                    In soul of more than mortal privilege.
                    One function, above all, of such a mind
                    Had Nature shadowed there, by putting forth,
                    'Mid circumstances awful and sublime,                       80
                    That mutual domination which she loves
                    To exert upon the face of outward things,
                    So moulded, joined, abstracted, so endowed
                    With interchangeable supremacy,
                    That men, least sensitive, see, hear, perceive,
                    And cannot choose but feel. The power, which all
                    Acknowledge when thus moved, which Nature thus
                    To bodily sense exhibits, is the express
                    Resemblance of that glorious faculty
                    That higher minds bear with them as their own.              90
                    This is the very spirit in which they deal
                    With the whole compass of the universe:
                    They from their native selves can send abroad
                    Kindred mutations; for themselves create
                    A like existence; and, whene'er it dawns
                    Created for them, catch it, or are caught
                    By its inevitable mastery,
                    Like angels stopped upon the wing by sound
                    Of harmony from Heaven's remotest spheres.
                    Them the enduring and the transient both                   100
                    Serve to exalt; they build up greatest things
                    From least suggestions; ever on the watch,
                    Willing to work and to be wrought upon,
                    They need not extraordinary calls
                    To rouse them; in a world of life they live,
                    By sensible impressions not enthralled,
                    But by their quickening impulse made more prompt
                    To hold fit converse with the spiritual world,
                    And with the generations of mankind
                    Spread over time, past, present, and to come,              110
                    Age after age, till Time shall be no more.
                    Such minds are truly from the Deity,
                    For they are Powers; and hence the highest bliss
                    That flesh can know is theirs--the consciousness
                    Of Whom they are, habitually infused
                    Through every image and through every thought,
                    And all affections by communion raised
                    From earth to heaven, from human to divine;
                    Hence endless occupation for the Soul,
                    Whether discursive or intuitive;                           120
                    Hence cheerfulness for acts of daily life,
                    Emotions which best foresight need not fear,
                    Most worthy then of trust when most intense.
                    Hence, amid ills that vex and wrongs that crush
                    Our hearts--if here the words of Holy Writ
                    May with fit reverence be applied--that peace
                    Which passeth understanding, that repose
                    In moral judgments which from this pure source
                    Must come, or will by man be sought in vain.