THERE is a valley dark and deep,

In whose wild depths no kindly sun hath shone,

Torn by a swirling torrent, never fringed

By fragrant flowers, dewy with the spray;

But from its ice-clad bosom upward rise

A score of envious cliffs, with seamed sides,

That cast the chilling shadow on the vale beneath

Of future avalanche. There, niggard earth

Takes to itself no waving robe of gold;

The scanty, fruitless plants that, timid, cling

About the rock-walled furrows, earthquake-cleft,

No kinder masters know than fire and frost.

A few steps more, and, round a jutting rock,

A fairy change! I see

A broad and sunny vale whose verdant slopes

A clustered village bear; and then a church,

And pastures, stretching up to forests dark

Of gloomy firs. But far above,

Far above a waved sea of snow,

On two stupendous flanks of time-worn rock,

Around which curl two living streams of ice,

A mountain rises, with one mighty leap,

Into the shimmering blue beyond; its crest,

Piercing through to purer air on high,

Grasps the blinding sunbeams from its peer

And flings them down below; the whole,

With jewelled crown of ice, a soaring shaft

Of crystallized eternity.

Eternity - But stay, - here comes a being,

Perhaps the guardian of this heavenly spot; -

O grisly vision! - what a sight! -

A mumbling, chattering ape with shambling step,

With twisted limbs, scarce covered by his rags,

While at his throat there hangs a swaying mass

Of quivering, gangrened flesh; a human form,

But worse than brule; that bestial, idiot leer

Doth bind him closer down to earth than yonder worm

That crawls upon a festering heap of mould.

I turn, and look upon the glorious scene

Above. - But yet, - the vital fire

Which heaved that noble pile above this earth

Has gone for aye, and cold and lifeless stands

The mighty peak; while that faint spark

That glimmers yet within the Cretin's breast,

Regenerated and reformed, shall live,

When yon vast rock shall lie, inert,

A mass of crumbling ruins on the plain.