Paunchy salamanders too
Peer, long-limbed, the bushes through!
And, like snakes, the roots of trees
Coil themselves from rock and sand,
Stretching many a wondrous band,
Us to frighten, us to seize;
From rude knots with life embued,
Polyp-fangs abroad they spread,
To snare the wanderer! ’Neath our tread,
Mice, in myriads, thousand-hued,
Through the heath and through the moss!
And the fire-flies’ glittering throng,
Wildering escort, whirls along,
Here and there, our path across.
Tell me, stand we motionless,
Or still forward do we press?
All things round us whirl and fly,
Rocks and trees make strange grimaces,
Dazzling meteors change their places—
How they puff and multiply!
Now grasp my doublet—we at last
A central peak have reached, which shows,
If round a wondering glance we cast,
How in the mountain Mammon glows.
How through the chasms strangely gleams,
A lurid light, like dawn’s red glow,
Pervading with its quivering beams,
The gorges of the gulf below!
Here vapors rise, there clouds float by,
Here through the mist the light doth shine;
Now, like a fount, it bursts on high,
Meanders now, a slender line;
Far reaching, with a hundred veins,
Here through the valley see it glide;
Here, where its force the gorge restrains,
At once it scatters, far and wide;
Anear, like showers of golden sand
Strewn broadcast, sputter sparks of light:
And mark yon rocky walls that stand
Ablaze, in all their towering height!
Doth not Sir Mammon for this fete
Grandly illume his palace! Thou
Art lucky to have seen it; now,
The boisterous guests, I feel, are coming straight.
How through the air the storm doth whirl!
Upon my neck it strikes with sudden shock.
Cling to these ancient ribs of granite rock,
Else to yon depths profound it you will hurl.
A murky vapor thickens night.
Hark! Through the woods the tempests roar!
The owlets flit in wild affright.
Hark! Splinter’d are the columns that upbore
The leafy palace, green for aye:
The shivered branches whirr and sigh,
Yawn the huge trunks with mighty groan,
The roots, upriven, creak and moan!
In fearful and entangled fall,
One crashing ruin whelms them all,
While through the desolate abyss,
Sweeping the wreck-strewn precipice,
The raging storm-blasts howl and hiss!
Aloft strange voices dost thou hear?
Distant now and now more near?
Hark! the mountain ridge along,
Streameth a raving magic-song!