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Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

Hymn before Sun-rise, in the Vale of Chamouni


              1Hast thou a charm to stay the morning-star
              2In his steep course? So long he seems to pause
              3On thy bald awful head, O sovran BLANC,
              4The Arve and Arveiron at thy base
              5Rave ceaselessly; but thou, most awful Form!
              6Risest from forth thy silent sea of pines,
              7How silently! Around thee and above
              8Deep is the air and dark, substantial, black,
              9An ebon mass: methinks thou piercest it,
            10As with a wedge! But when I look again,
            11It is thine own calm home, thy crystal shrine,
            12Thy habitation from eternity!
            13O dread and silent Mount! I gazed upon thee,
            14Till thou, still present to the bodily sense,
            15Didst vanish from my thought: entranced in prayer
            16I worshipped the Invisible alone.

            17      Yet, like some sweet beguiling melody,
            18So sweet, we know not we are listening to it,
            19Thou, the meanwhile, wast blending with my Thought,
            20Yea, with my Life and Life's own secret joy:
            21Till the dilating Soul, enrapt, transfused,
            22Into the mighty vision passing--there
            23As in her natural form, swelled vast to Heaven!

            24      Awake, my soul! not only passive praise
            25Thou owest! not alone these swelling tears,
            26Mute thanks and secret ecstasy! Awake,
            27Voice of sweet song! Awake, my heart, awake!
            28Green vales and icy cliffs, all join my Hymn.

            29      Thou first and chief, sole sovereign of the Vale!
            30O struggling with the darkness all the night,
            31And visited all night by troops of stars,
            32Or when they climb the sky or when they sink:
            33Companion of the morning-star at dawn,
            34Thyself Earth's rosy star, and of the dawn
            35Co-herald: wake, O wake, and utter praise!
            36Who sank thy sunless pillars deep in Earth?
            37Who filled thy countenance with rosy light?
            38Who made thee parent of perpetual streams?

            39      And you, ye five wild torrents fiercely glad!
            40Who called you forth from night and utter death,
            41From dark and icy caverns called you forth,
            42Down those precipitous, black, jaggéd rocks,
            43For ever shattered and the same for ever?
            44Who gave you your invulnerable life,
            45Your strength, your speed, your fury, and your joy,
            46Unceasing thunder and eternal foam?
            47And who commanded (and the silence came),
            48Here let the billows stiffen, and have rest?

            49      Ye Ice-falls! ye that from the mountain's brow
            50Adown enormous ravines slope amain--
            51Torrents, methinks, that heard a mighty voice,
            52And stopped at once amid their maddest plunge!
            53Motionless torrents! silent cataracts!
            54Who made your glorious as the Gates of Heaven
            55Beneath the keen full moon? Who bade the sun
            56Clothe you with rainbows? Who, with living flowers
            57Of loveliest blue, spread garlands at your feet?--
            58God! let the torrents, like a shout of nations,
            59Answer! and let the ice-plains echo, God!
            60God! sing ye meadow-streams with gladsome voice!
            61Ye pine-groves, with your soft and soul-like sounds!
            62And they too have a voice, yon piles of snow,
            63And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God!

            64      Ye living flowers that skirt the eternal frost!
            65Ye wild goats sporting round the eagle's nest!
            66Yet eagles, play-mates of the mountain-storm!
            67Ye lightnings, the dread arrows of the clouds!
            68Ye signs and wonders of the element!
            69Utter forth God, and fill the hills with praise!

            70      Thou too, hoar Mount! with thy sky-pointing peaks,
            71Oft from whose feet the avalanche, unheard,
            72Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene
            73Into the depth of clouds, that veil thy breast--
            74Thou too again, stupendous Mountain! thou
            75That as I raise my head, awhile bowed low
            76In adoration, upward from thy base
            77Slow travelling with dim eyes suffused with tears,
            78Solemnly seemest, like a vapoury cloud,
            79To rise before me--Rise, O ever rise,
            80Rise like a cloud of incense from the Earth!
            81Thou kingly Spirit throned among the hills,
            82Thou dread ambassador from Earth to Heaven,
            83Great Hierarch! tell thou the silent sky,
            84And tell the stars, and tell yon rising sun
            85Earth, with her thousand voices, praises God.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Morning Post (Sept. 23, 1802).
First publication date: 23 September 1802
RPO poem editor: J. D. Robins
RP edition: 2RP 2.122.
Recent editing: 4:2002/3/20

Form: Blank Verse


Other poems by Samuel Taylor Coleridge