Francis Turner Palgrave

In High Savoy

NATURE’S fair, fruitless, aimless world
    Men take and mould at will:
Scoop havens from the wasteful sea;
Tame heaths to green fertility,
    And grind their roadway through the hill.

Another aspect now she dons,
    Changed by the hands of men;
What harvest plains of golden hope,
What vineyards on the amber slope,
    What lurid forge-lights in the glen!

Yet still some relic she reserves
    Of what was all her own;
Keeps the wild surface of the moor,
Or where the glacier-torrents roar,
    Reigns o’er gray piles of wrinkled stone.

And though man’s daily strengthening sway
    Contracts her precinct fair,
Yet round smooth sweeps of vine-set land
Her vaporous ranks of summit stand
    As ghosts in morning’s silent air:

Or on vast slopes unploughed, untrod,
    She vindicates her right;
Green billows of primeval copse,
Tossing a myriad spiry tops
    ’Neath the full zenith-flood of light.

Or where, whilst o’er Rhone’s azure lake
    Heaven’s azure stainless lies,
From the White Mount the white clouds strike,
As if volcano-born, or like
    The smoke of some great sacrifice.

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