Derwent Water and Skiddaw

Bryan Waller Procter

Deep stillness lies upon this lovely lake.
The air is calm, the forest trees are still;
The river windeth without noise, and here
The fall of fountains comes not, nor the sound
Of the white cataract Lodore: the voice—
The mighty mountain voice—itself is dumb.
Only, far distant and scarce heard, the dash,
Of waters, broken by some boatman's oar.
Disturbs the golden, calm monotony.
The earth seems quiet, like some docile thing
Obeying the blue beauty of the skies;
And the soft air, through which the tempest ran
So lately in its speed, rebels no more.
The clouds are gone which but this morning gloomed
Round the great Skiddaw; and he, wide revealed,
Outdurer of the storms, now sleeps secure
Beneath the watching of the holy moon.
But a few hours ago and sounds were heard
Through all the region: rain and the white hail sang
Amongst the branches, and this placid lake
Teased into mutiny; its waves (these waves
That lie like shining silver motionless)
Then shamed their gentle natures, and rose up
Lashing their guardian banks, and, with wild cries
Complaining, called to all the echoes round.
And answered rudely the rude winds, which then
Cast discord in the waters, until they
Amongst themselves waged wild and glittering war.

Skiddaw! Eternal mountain, hast thou been
Rocked to thy slumber by the howling winds,
Or has the thunder or the lightnings blue
Scared thee to quiet? To the sounding blast
Thou gavest answer, and when thou didst dash
The white hail in its puny rage aside,
Thou wast not dumb, nor to the rains when they
Ran trembling from thee:—me thou answerest not.
Art thou indignant then, or hear I not?
Or, like the double-visaged god who sate
Within the Roman temples, dost thou keep
High watch above the northern floods to warn
Lone ships from erring, while thy southern front
Is sealed in sleep? Thy lofty head has long
Stood up an everlasting mark to all
Who wander; haply now some wretch, whose bark
Has drifted from its path since set of sun.
Beholds thee shine, and kneeling pours his soul
In thanks to heaven, or towards his cottage home
Shouts amidst tears, or laughter sad as tears.
And shall I, while these things may be, complain?
Never: in silence as in sound thou art
A thing of grandeur; and throughout the year
Thy high protecting presence (let not this
Be forgot ever) turns aside the winds
Which else might kill the flowers of this sweet vale.

Main Location:

Derwent Water, Lake District, Cumbria, England

Other locations:

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0