William Wordsworth

IN one of those excursions (may they ne’er

Fade from remembrance!) through the northern tracts

Of Cambria ranging with a youthful friend,

I left Bethgelert’s huts at couching-time,

And westward took my way, to see the sun

Rise from the top of Snowdon. To the door

Of a rude cottage at the mountain’s base

We came, and roused the shepherd who attends

The adventurous stranger’s steps, a trusty guide;

Then, cheered by short refreshment, sallied forth.

  It was a close, warm, breezeless summer night,

Wan, dull, and glaring, with a dripping fog

Low-hung and thick that covered all the sky;

But, undiscouraged, we began to climb

The mountain-side. The mist soon girt us round,

And, after ordinary travellers’ talk

With our conductor, pensively we sank

Each into commerce with his private thoughts:

Thus did we breast the ascent, and by myself

Was nothing either seen or heard that checked

Those musings or diverted, save that once

The shepherd’s lurcher, who, among the crags,

Had to his joy unearthed a hedgehog, teased

His coiled-up prey with barkings turbulent.

This small adventure, for even such it seemed

In that wild place and at the dead of night,

Being over and forgotten, on we wound

In silence as before. With forehead bent

Earthward, as in opposition set

Against an enemy, I panted up

With eager pace, and no less eager thoughts.

Thus might we wear a midnight hour away,

Ascending at loose distance each from each,

And I, as chanced, the foremost of the band;

When at my feet the ground appeared to brighten,

And with a step or two seemed brighter still:

Nor was time given to ask or learn the cause,

For instantly a light upon the turf

Fell like a flash, and lo! as I looked up,

The moon hung naked in a firmament

Of azure without cloud, and at my feet

Rested a silent sea of hoary mist.

A hundred hills their dusky backs upheaved

All over this still ocean; and beyond,

Far, far beyond, the solid vapors stretched,

In headlands, tongues, and promontory shapes,

Into the main Atlantic, that appeared

To dwindle, and give up his majesty,

Usurped upon far as the sight could reach.

Not so the ethereal vault; encroachment none

Was there, nor loss; only the inferior stars

Had disappeared, or shed a fainter light

In the clear presence of the full-orbed moon,

Who, from her sovereign elevation, gazed

Upon the billowy ocean, as it lay

All meek and silent, save that through a rift—

Not distant from the shore whereon we stood,

A fixed, abysmal, gloomy, breathing-place—

Mounted the roar of waters, torrents, streams

Innumerable, roaring with one voice!

Heard over earth and sea, and, in that hour,

For so it seemed, felt by the starry heavens.