Obermann Once More

Matthew Arnold

 

GLION?—Ah, twenty years, it cuts

All meaning from a name!

White houses prank where once were huts;

Glion, but not the same!

 

And yet I know not. All unchanged

The turf, the pines, the sky!

The hills in their old order ranged!

The lake, with Chillon by!

 

And ’neath those chestnut-trees, where stiff

And stony mounts the way,

Their crackling husk-heaps burn, as if

I left them yesterday.

 

Across the valley, on that slope,

The huts of Avant shine;

Its pines under their branches ope

Ways for the tinkling kine.

 

Full-foaming milk-pails, Alpine fare,

Sweet heaps of fresh-cut grass,

Invite to rest the traveller there,

Before he climb the pass,—

 

The gentian-flowered pass, its crown

With yellow spires aflame,

Whence drops the path to Allière down,

And walls where Byron came,

 

By their green river who doth change

His birth-name just below;

Orchard and croft and full-stored grange

Nursed by his pastoral flow.

 

But stop!—To fetch back thoughts that stray

Beyond this gracious bound,

The cone of Jaman, pale and gray,

See in the blue profound!

 

Ah, Jaman! delicately tall

Above his sun-warmed firs,—

What thoughts to me his rocks recall!

What memories he stirs!

 

And who but thou must be, in truth,

Obermann! with me here?

Thou master of my wandering youth,

But left this many a year!

 

Yes, I forget the world’s work wrought,

Its warfare waged with pain!

An eremite with thee, in thought

Once more I slip my chain,

 

And to thy mountain-châlet come,

And lie beside its door,

And hear the wild bee’s Alpine hum,

And thy sad, tranquil lore.

 

Again I feel its words inspire

Their mournful calm,—serene,

Yet tinged with infinite desire

For all that might have been,

 

The harmony from which man swerved

Made his life’s rule once more!

The universal order served!

Earth happier than before!

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