18 JULY 1863, Page 16


Mid mountain shapes most grand and rare, Standing alone the maid we found ; The yellow kerchief closely bound Round her low forehead bid her hair.

The distaff in her hand at rest, So short her stature, seem'd to lie Along the turf, her vacant eye Look'd upward, but no sense expreet.

How had our hearts leap'd as we came Out of long flats of forest land, Where green and grey the pine and sand Hung changeless in a changeless frame.

When on the horizon a white stain Grew up ; until we shouted loud, "It is the Pyrenees, no cloud! I see the mountains once again."

And here we found her, in that shadow Wrapt, that no mountain ever threw, Where a long shelter'd valley drew Close round a streamlet in a meadow.

Around her all the purple peaks Rush'd pile on pile into the blue, 0: to a deeper violet hue Dipp'd down, with sudden slopes and breaks.

From young leaves on the wood-cloth'd steeps, From heather beds like crimson gleams, The wind blew fragrant, and the streams Made music with their silver leaps.

But she nor heeds, nor hears, nor sees, As if to teach us soul and thought Are God's own gifts to man, untaught Even by external things like these. Strength cannot give, nor beauty train That which He straitens or withholds, Who made the mountain range, and moulds Man's cunning wit and curious brain.

And glor'ious as this vision fair, Of snow-crown'd heights with forests fleck'd, That wondrous human intellect, That works and sparkles everywhere.

And yet it is a noble thing To feel the strength that mountains give To nerve and spirit, and to live Among the shadows that they fling ; With high pure yearnings by them given, As though 'twere true—our childhood dream, That made their visible fabric seem As solid steps that led to Heaven : To watch their splendours shift and change, Till every vein within us thrills With the great glory of the hills, That give to thought a wider range ; That bring us back again our youth, As from mysterious vales beneath, And sun-lit peaks above, we breathe Their breath of freedom and of truth.

C. F. A.