NIGHT ON THE MOUNTAIN By George Sterling

The fog has risen from the sea and crowned
The dark, untrodden summits of the coast,
Where roams a voice, in canyons uttermost,
From midnight waters vibrant and profound.
High on each granite altar dies the sound,
Deep as the trampling of an armored host,
Lone as the lamentation of a ghost,
Sad as the diapason of the drowned.

The mountain seems no more a soulless thing,
But rather as a shape of ancient fear,
In darkness and the winds of Chaos born
Amid the lordless heavens’ thundering–
A Presence crouched, enormous and austere,
Before whose feet the mighty waters mourn.

Sterling’s Night on the Mountain captures the malevolence that mountains sometimes seem to possess. It’s difficult to find a heart “free of care” during a ferocious mountain storm.

If this list shows us anything, it’s that mountains encompass a rainbow-spectrum of meaning. They are beautiful and ugly, peaceful and malevolent, holy and unholy — sometimes all at once. The shape shifting nature of mountains will continue to inspire and provoke us with wonder, and will continue to scare us, as well.

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