Einsiedeln Abbey

William Wordsworth

Translated by Alfred Baskerville


THE HORSEMAN rides in the valley’s glow,

The sunbeam glistens on fields of snow,

The sweat-drop falls as he speeds to gain

The lake of Constance ere day doth wane,

To pass with his steed in the ferry o’er,

And land ere night on the further shore.

On rugged path, with mettlesome steed,

MID savage rocks, and seas of snow that shine,

Between interminable tracts of pine,

Within a temple stands an awful shrine,

By an uncertain light revealed, that falls

On the mute image and the troubled walls.

  O, give not me that eye of hard disdain

That views, undimmed, Einsiedeln’s wretched fane.

While ghastly faces through the gloom appear,

Abortive joy, and hope that works in fear;

While prayer contends with silenced agony,

Surely in other thoughts contempt may die.

If the sad grave of human ignorance bear

One flower of hope, O, pass and leave it there!

The tall sun, pausing on an Alpine spire,

Flings o’er the wilderness a stream of fire:

Now meet we other pilgrims ere the day

Close on the remnant of their weary way;

While they are drawing toward the sacred floor

Where, so they fondly think, the worm shall gnaw no more.

How gayly murmur and how sweetly taste

The fountains reared for them amid the waste!

Their thirst they slake; they wash their toil-worn feet,

And some with tears of joy each other greet.

Yes, I must see you when ye first behold

Those holy turrets tipped with evening gold,

In that glad moment will for you a sigh

Be heaved, of charitable sympathy;

In that glad moment when your hands are prest

In mute devotion on the thankful breast!