Felicia Dorothea Hemans ( )

The Rock of Cader Idris

It is an old tradition of the Welsh bards, that on the summit of the mountain Cader Idris is an excavation resembling a couch; and that whoever should pass a night in that hollow would be found in the morning either dead, in a frenzy, or endowed with the highest poetical inspiration.

I LAY on that rock where the storms have their dwelling,
The birthplace of phantoms, the home of the cloud;	
Around it forever deep music is swelling,
The voice of the mountain wind solemn and loud.
T was a midnight of shadows all fitfully streaming,
Of wild waves and breezes, that mingle their moan;
Of dim shrouded stars, as from gulfs faintly gleaming;	
And I met the dread gloom of its grandeur alone.

I lay there in silence,a spirit came oer me;
Mans tongue hath no language to speak what I saw;
Things glorious, unearthly, passed floating before me,
And my heart almost fainted with rapture and awe.
I viewed the dread beings around us that hover,
Though veiled by the mists of mortalitys breath;
And I called upon darkness the vision to cover,
For a strife was within me of madness and death.

I saw them,the powers of the wind and the ocean,
The rush of whose pinion bears onward the storms;
Like the sweep of the white-rolling wave was their motion,
I felt their dim presence, but knew not their forms!
I saw them,the mighty of ages departed,
The dead were around me that night on the hill:
From their eyes, as they passed, a cold radiance they darted,	
There was light on my soul, but my hearts blood was chill.

I saw what man looks on, and dies,but my spirit
Was strong, and triumphantly lived through that hour;
And, as from the grave, I awoke to inherit
A flame all immortal, a voice, and a power!
Day burst on that rock with the purple cloud crested,
And high Cader Idris rejoiced in the sun;
But O, what new glory all nature invested,
When the sense which gives soul to her beauty was won!

Felicia Dorothea Hemans's other poems:
  1. The Vassals Lament for the Fallen Tree
  2. Taliesins Prophecy
  3. Old Norway
  4. Joan of Arc in Rheims
  5. A Farewell to Wales

 . Poem to print (Print)

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