The Simplon Pass

Original Text: 
William Wordsworth, Poems (1845).
2Were fellow-travellers in this gloomy Pass,
3And with them did we journey several hours
4At a slow step. The immeasurable height
5Of woods decaying, never to be decayed,
6The stationary blasts of waterfalls,
7And in the narrow rent, at every turn,
8Winds thwarting winds bewildered and forlorn,
9The torrents shooting from the clear blue sky,
10The rocks that muttered close upon our ears,
11Black drizzling crags that spake by the wayside
12As if a voice were in them, the sick sight
13And giddy prospect of the raving stream,
14The unfettered clouds and region of the heavens,
15Tumult and peace, the darkness and the light--
16Were all like workings of one mind, the features
17Of the same face, blossoms upon one tree,
18Characters of the great Apocalypse,
19The types and symbols of Eternity,
20Of first and last, and midst, and without end.


1] Dated by Wordsworth 1799; however, the earliest manuscript is of 1804 when these lines appear in Book VI of The Prelude, then being composed. First published in Poems, 1845; also in The Prelude (1850), VI, 621-40. Wordsworth had crossed by the Simplon Pass from Switzerland to Italy in the summer of 1790 when on a walking tour with a college friend. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
J. R. MacGillivray
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.384.