Songs from the Mountains


(Written in the shadow of 1872.)

Henry Kendall

            AH, to be by Mooni now,
Where the great dark hills of wonder,
Scarred with storm and cleft asunder
By the strong sword of the thunder,
            Make a night on morning’s brow!
Just to stand where Nature’s face is
Flushed with power in forest places—
Where of God authentic trace is—
            Ah, to be by Mooni now!

            Just to be by Mooni’s springs!
There to stand, the shining sharer
Of that larger life, and rarer
Beauty caught from beauty fairer
            Than the human face of things!
Soul of mine from sin abhorrent
Fain would hide by flashing current,
Like a sister of the torrent,
            Far away by Mooni’s springs.

            He that is by Mooni now
Sees the water-sapphires gleaming
Where the River Spirit, dreaming,
Sleeps by fall and fountain streaming
            Under lute of leaf and bough—
Hears, where stamp of storm with stress is,
Psalms from unseen wildernesses
Deep amongst far hill-recesses—
            He that is by Mooni now.

            Yea, for him by Mooni’s marge
Sings the yellow-haired September,
With the face the gods remember
When the ridge is burnt to ember,
            And the dumb sea chains the barge!
Where the mount like molten brass is,
Down beneath fern-feathered passes,
Noonday dew in cool green grasses
            Gleams on him by Mooni’s marge.

            Who that dwells by Mooni yet,
Feels, in flowerful forest arches,
Smiting wings and breath that parches
Where strong Summer’s path of march is,
            And the suns in thunder set?
Housed beneath the gracious kirtle
Of the shadowy water myrtle,
Winds may hiss with heat, and hurtle—
            He is safe by Mooni yet!

            Days there were when he who sings
(Dumb so long through passion’s losses)
Stood where Mooni’s water crosses
Shining tracts of green-haired mosses,
            Like a soul with radiant wings;
Then the psalm the wind rehearses—
Then the song the stream disperses
Lent a beauty to his verses,
            Who to-night of Mooni sings.

            Ah, the theme—the sad, grey theme!
Certain days are not above me,
Certain hearts have ceased to love me,
Certain fancies fail to move me
            Like the affluent morning dream.
Head whereon the white is stealing,
Heart whose hurts are past all healing,
Where is now the first pure feeling?
            Ah, the theme—the sad, grey theme!

            Sin and shame have left their trace!
He who mocks the mighty, gracious
Love of Christ, with eyes audacious,
Hunting after fires fallacious,
            Wears the issue in his face.
Soul that flouted gift and Giver,
Like the broken Persian river,
Thou hast lost thy strength for ever!
            Sin and shame have left their trace.

            In the years that used to be,
When the large, supreme occasion
Brought the life of inspiration,
Like a god’s transfiguration
            Was the shining change in me.
Then, where Mooni’s glory glances,
Clear, diviner countenances
Beamed on me like blessed chances,
            In the years that used to be.

            Ah, the beauty of old ways!
Then the man who so resembled
Lords of light unstained, unhumbled,
Touched the skirts of Christ, nor trembled
            At the grand benignant gaze!
Now he shrinks before the splendid
Face of Deity offended,
All the loveliness is ended!
            All the beauty of old ways!

            Still to be by Mooni cool—
Where the water-blossoms glister,
And, by gleaming vale and vista,
Sits the English April’s sister
            Soft and sweet and wonderful.
Just to rest beyond the burning
Outer world—its sneers and spurning—
Ah! my heart—my heart is yearning
            Still to be by Mooni cool!

            Now, by Mooni’s fair hill heads,
Lo, the gold green lights are glowing,
Where, because no wind is blowing,
Fancy hears the flowers growing
            In the herby watersheds!
Faint it is—the sound of thunder
From the torrents far thereunder,
Where the meeting mountains ponder—
            Now, by Mooni’s fair hill heads.

            Just to be where Mooni is,
Even where the fierce fall races
Down august, unfathomed places,
Where of sun or moon no trace is,
            And the streams of shadows hiss!
Have I not an ample reason
So to long for—sick of treason—
Something of the grand old season,
            Just to be where Mooni is?

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