Charles Harpur

Dawn in the Mountains

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It is the morning star, arising slow
Out of yon hill’s dark bulk, as she were born
Of its desire for day; then glides she forth
And into the dim sky, there leaving still
A whiteness in her wake that whitens more
As she ascends, till all the gloomy woods
Are touched along their multiformous lines
By a faint gleaming azure, creeping on:
A few thin stripes of fleecy clouds lie long
And motionless above the eastern steeps,
Like threads of silver lace; till suddenly,
Out from the flushing centre to the ends
On either hand, their lustrous layers become
Dipt all in crimson streaked with pink and gold;
And then at last are edged as with a band
Of crystal all on fire. Meanwhile the stars,
Those golden children of eternity,
Have all withdrawn within the Invisible;
That skiey gleam and azure prevalence
Which first bespoke the dawn works out and down
Ev’n to the grassy ground; till all the trees,
Clearly defined to their minutest sprays,
Stand in unspeakable beauty. Long before
The sun himself is seen, off towards the west
A range of mighty summits more and more
Blaze each like a huge cresset in the keen
Clear atmosphere. As if the spirit of light
Advancing swiftly thence, and eastward still,
Kept kindling them in quick succession, till
The universal company of cones
And peaks pyramidal stand burning all
With rosy fires like a wide-ranging circ
Of mighty altars, where the spirit of man
Can feel the presence of that greater soul
Which makes all nature, and of which itself
Is but an effluence, however far
Projected, or detached by tract of time;
Even as a sunbeam’s fountain in the sun,
Whether it hit the earth or glance away
Into infinitude—shooting on for ever.

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Charles Harpur