The Rock of Cader Idris

By Felicia Hemans

[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 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 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 o’er me;
   Man’s 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 mortality’s 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 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!


This poem is in the public domain.