Effusion in Presence of the Painted Tower of Tell, at Altorf

William Wordsworth


WHAT though the Italian pencil wrought not here,

Nor such fine skill as did the meed bestow

On Marathonian valor, yet the tear

Springs forth in presence of this gaudy show,

While narrow cares their limits overflow.

Thrice happy, burghers, peasants, warriors old,

Infants in arms, and ye, that as ye go

Homeward or schoolward, ape what ye behold;

Heroes before your time, in frolic fancy bold!


And when that calm spectatress from on high

Looks down,—the bright and solitary moon,

Who never gazes but to beautify;

And snow-fed torrents, which the blaze of noon

Roused into fury, murmur a soft tune

That fosters peace, and gentleness recalls;

Then might the passing monk receive a boon

Of saintly pleasure from those pictured walls,

While on the warlike groups the mellowing lustre falls.


How blest the souls who when their trials come

Yield not to terror or despondency,

But face like that sweet boy their mortal doom,

Whose head the ruddy apple tops, while he

Expectant stands beneath the linden-tree;

He quakes not like the timid forest game,

But smiles,—the hesitating shaft to free;

Assured that Heaven its justice will proclaim,

And to his father give its own unerring aim.


Main Location:

Altdorf, Switzerland