Oh! give not these, ye pow'rs! I ask alone, As rapt I climb these dark romantic steeps, The elemental war, the billow's moan; I ask the still, sweet tear, that listening Fancy weeps! Unnatural deeds Do breed unnatural troubles: infected minds To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. More needs she the divine, than the physician.
The mountains, then as now, towered to the skies, and the valleys were deep, and the rivers rushed impetuously over the steeps which attempted to impede their course. Winters locked up a portion of the earth, and the summer suns beamed fiercely and intensely upon another portion. The stars shone by day, and the beams of the moon gladdened the hours of darkness.
From an altitude of four or five hundred feet, the country falls in sharp steeps to a narrow alluvial bench, and then a broad beach of shale and pebble; the slopes are broken, here and there, where deep, shadowy ravines come winding down, bearing muddy contributions to the greater flood.
Down the side of slopes we galloped, across wide vales that stretched to the foot of far-off hills. Nearer and nearer grew the blue hills; now we were travelling up their steeps, and now we were over and passing towards others that sprang up like visions in the far, faint distance beyond.
The scenery along this part of the Rhone, as we have found all the way from Marseilles, is very fine and impressive; old villages, rocky cliffs, castellated steeps, quaint chateaux, and a thousand other interesting objects. We arrived at Lyons at five o'clock, and went to the Hotel de l'Univers, to which we had been recommended by our good hostess at Avignon.
She combs with a comb that is golden, And sings a weird refrain That steeps in a deadly enchantment The list'ner's ravished brain: The doomed in his drifting shallop, Is tranced with the sad sweet tone, He sees not the yawning breakers, He sees but the maid alone: The pitiless billows engulf him! So perish sailor and bark; And this, with her baleful singing, Is the Lorelei's gruesome work.
The mountain-ash too, and the weeping birch, often threw their pendant foliage over the steeps above, where the scanty soil scarcely concealed their roots, and where their light branches waved to every breeze that fluttered from the mountains.
Yet perilous as they were, I could not but admire their beautiful appearance as they floated upon the dark blue of the running waters, flashing out very gloriously to the sun with a sparkling of tints upon their whiteness as if fires of twenty different colours had been kindled upon their craggy steeps, and then fading into a sulky watchet to the dull violet shadowing of the passing clouds.
They were his real world, of which the tamer world of meadow and woodland actually around him only gave suggestion. He thought of the green steeps, the rocks, the mountain pines, the waters of the lake, "the populous solitude of bees and birds," as of some divine presence, too sublime for personality.
Below me steeps of green swept down to the river. I stared at them until I fancied that they swept up to the sky. The purple darkened, night drew nearer; it seemed only to cut clearer the chasms and draw higher the spires of that nightmare landscape. Above me in the twilight was the huge black hulk of the driver, and his broad, blank back was as mysterious as the back of Death in Watts' picture.