The strongholds these of those strange, mighty gods
Who walked the earth before man’s feeble race,
And, passing hence to their unknown abodes
In further worlds, left here there awful trace.
Turrets, and battlements, and toppling towers.
That spurn the torrent foaming at their base,
And pierce the clouds, uplifting into space.
No sound is here, save where the river pours
Its ice-born flood, or when the tempests sweep
In rush of battle, and lightnings leap
In thunder to the cliffs; no wing outspread
Above these walls, lone and untenanted
By man or beast, -but where the eagle soars
Above the crags, - and by the gates they guard,
Huge, and as motionless, on either hand,
The rock-hewn sentinels in silence stand,
Through the long centuries keeping watch and ward.
Up from the sheer abysses that we tread,
Wherein pale shadow holds her mystic sway,
And night yields never wholly to the day,
To where, in narrowing light far overhead,
Arch capping arch and peak to peak is wed,
We gaze, and veil our eyes in silent awe,
As when Jehovah’s form the prophet saw.

More verses by Ina D. Coolbrith