The Rock of Cader Idris
by Felicia HemansIt 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 state of 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 for ever deep music is swelling,
The voice of the mountain-wind, solemn and loud.
‘Twas a midnight of shadows all fitfully streaming,
Of wild waves and breezes, that mingled 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 o’er me;
Man’s tongue hath no language to speak what I saw:
Things glorious, unearthly, pass’d floating before me,
And my heart almost fainted with rapture and awe.
I view’d the dread beings around us that hover,
Though veil’d by the mists of mortality’s breath;
And I call’d 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 pass’d, a cold radiance they darted, —
There was light on my soul, but my heart’s 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!