The Peasant Of The Alps

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From the novel of Celestina.
Where cliffs arise by winter crown’d,
And through dark groves of pine around,
Down the deep chasms the snow-fed torrents foam,
Within some hollow, shelter’d from the storms,
The Peasant of the Alps his cottage forms,
And builds his humble, happy home.
Unenvied is the rich domain,
That far beneath him on the plain
Waves its wide harvests and its olive groves;
More dear to him his hut with plantain thatch’d,
Where long his unambitious heart attach’d,
Finds all he wishes, all he loves.
There dwells the mistress of his heart,
And Love , who teaches every art,
Has bid him dress the spot with fondest care;
When borrowing from the vale its fertile soil,
He climbs the precipice with patient toil,
To plant her favourite flowerets there.
With native shrubs, a hardy race,
There the green myrtle finds a place,
And roses there the dewy leaves decline;
While from the crags abrupt, and tangled steeps,
With bloom and fruit the Alpine berry peeps,
And, blushing, mingles with the vine.
His garden’s simple produce stored,
Prepared for him by hands adored,
Is all the little luxury he knows.
And by the same dear hands are softly spread,
The Chamois’ velvet spoil that forms the bed,
Where in her arms he finds repose.

But absent from the calm abode,
Dark thunder gathers round his road,
Wild raves the wind, the arrowy lightnings flash,
Returning quick the murmuring rocks among,
His faint heart trembling as he winds along;
Alarm’d–he listens to the crash
Of rifted ice!–Oh, man of woe!
O’er his dear cot–a mass of snow,
By the storm sever’d from the cliff above,
Has fallen–and buried in its marble breast,
All that for him–lost wretch–the world possest,
His home, his happiness, his love!
Aghast the heart-struck mourner stands,
Glazed are his eyes–convulsed his hands,
O’erwhelming anguish checks his labouring breath;
Crush’d by despair’s intolerable weight,
Frantic he seeks the mountain’s giddiest height,
And headlong seeks relief in death.
A fate too similar is mine,
But I–in lingering pain repine,
And still my lost felicity deplore;
Cold, cold to me is that dear breast become
Where this poor heart had fondly fix’d its home,
And love and happiness are mine no more.

 

– Charlotte Smith

 

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