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In lustre, warm as sunshine--but more dim:
When all the holy sentinels of night
Step forth to watch in turn, and worship by their light.
Such is the hour !—the holy, breathless hour,
When such sweet minstrelsy hath mightiest power;
When sights are seen, that all the blaze of day
Can never rival, in its fierce display:
Such is the hour-yet not a sound is heard ;
No sights are seen-no melancholy bird
Sings tenderly and sweet; but all the air
Is thick and motionless-as if it were
A prelude to some dreadful tragedy;
Some midnight drame of an opening sky!
The genius of the mountain, and the wood;
The stormy eagle, and her rushing brood;
The fire-eyed tenant of the desert cave;
The gallant spirit of the roaring wave;
The star-crown'd messengers that ride the air ;
The meteor watch-light, with its streamy hair,
Threatening and sweeping redly from the hill;
The shaking cascade—and the merry rill
Are hush'd to slumber now and heaven and earth are still.
And now the day-light comes :-slowly it rides,
In ridgy lustre o'er the cloudy tides,
Like the soft foam upon the billow's breast;
Or feathery light upon a shadowy crest;
The morning breezes from their slumbers wake,
And o'er the distant hill-tops cheerly shake
Their dewy locks, and plume themselves, and poise
Their rosy wings, and listen to the noise
Of echoes wandering from the world below:
The distant lake, rejoicing in its flow:
The bugle's ready cry: the laboring drum:
The neigh of steeds
and the incessant hum
That the bright tenants of the forest send:
The sunrise gun: the heave—the wave—and bend
Of everlasting trees, whose busy leaves
Rustle their song of praise, while ruin weaves
A robe of verdure for their yielding bark;
While mossy garlands--rich, and full
, and dark,
Creep slowly round them. Monarchs of the wood!
Whose miglity spectres sway the mountain brood!
Whose aged bosoms, in their last decay,
Shelter the wing'd idolators of day;
Who, 'mid the desert wild, sublimely stand,
And grapple with the storm-god hand to hand !
Then drop like weary pyramids away ;
Stupendous monuments of calm decay !
As yet the warring thunders have not rent
The swimming clouds, the brightening firmament,
The lovely mists that float around the sky-
Ruddy and rich with fresh and glorious dye,
Like hovering seraph wings or robe of poesy!
Now comes the sun forth! not in blaze of fire:
With rainbow-harness'd coursers, that respire
An atmosphere of flame. No chariot whirls
O'er reddening clouds. No sunny flag unfurls
O’er rushing smoke. No chargers in array
Scatter through heaven and earth their fiery spray.
No shouting charioteer, in transport flings
Ten thousand anthems, from tumultuous strings:
And round and round, no fresh-plumed echoes dance:
No airy minstrels in the flush light glance:
No rushing melody comes strong an deep:
And far away no fading winglets sweep:
No boundless hymning o'er the blue sky rings,
In hallelujahs to the King of kings:
No youthful hours are seen. No riband lash,
Flings its gay stripings like a rainbow flash,
While starry crowns, and constellations fade
Before the glories of that cavalcade,
Whose trappings are the jewelry of heaven,
Embroider'd thickly on the clouds of even.
No!--no-he comes not thus in pomp, and light! A new creation bursting out of night! But he comes darkly forth! in storm array'da Like the red tempest marshall’d in her shade, When mountains rock; and thunders travelling round, Hold counsel in the sky--and midnight trumps resound.
SWITZERLAND! my country! 't is to thee,
I rock my harp in agony :-
My country! nurse of Liberty,
Home of the gallant, great and free,
My sullen harp I rock to thee.
O, I have lost ye all !
Parents and home—and friends :
Ye sleep beneath a mountain pall;
A mountain-plumage o'er ye bends.
The cliff-yew in funereal gloom,
Is now the only mourning plume,
That nods above a people's tomb:
Of the echoes that swim o'er thy bright blue lake,
And deep in its caverns, their merry bells shake;
And repeat thy young huntsman's cry:
That clatter and laugh, when the goatherds take
Their browsing flocks at the morning's break,
Far over the hills—not one is awake
In the swell of thy peaceable sky.
They sit on that wave with a motionless wing;
And their cymbals are mute and the desert birds sing
Their unanswer'd notes to the wave and the sky
One startling, and sudden-unchangeable cry-
As they stoop their broad wing, and go sluggishly by:
: For deep in that blue-bosom'd water is laid
As innocent, true, and as lovely a maid
As ever in cheerfulness carol'd her song,
In the blithe mountain air, as she bounded along :
The heavens are all blue, and the billow's bright verge
Is frothily laved by a whispering surge,
That heaves incessant, a tranquil dirge,
To lull the pale forms that sleep below:
Forms—that rock as the waters flow.
That bright lake is still as a liquid sky,
And when o'er its bosom the swift clouds fly,
pass like thoughts o'er a clear blue eye!
The fringe of thin foam that their sepulchre binds,
Is as light as a cloud that is borne by the winds;
While over its bosom the dim vapors hover,
And flutterless skims the snowy-wing'd plover :
Swiftly passing away—like a haunted wing;
With a drooping plume--that may not fling
One sound of life-or a rustling note-
O’er that sleepless tomb—where my loved ones float.
Oh cool and fresh is that bright blue lake,
While over its stillness no sounds awake :
No sights—but those of the hill-top fountain
That swims on the height of a cloud-wrapp'd mountain--
The basin of the rainbow-stream,
The sunset gush—the morning gleam-
of the poet's dream.
Land of proud hearts where freedom broods
Amid her home of echoing woods,
The mother of the mountain floods-
Dark, Goldau is thy vale ;
The spirits of Rigi shall wail
On their cloud-bosom’d deep, as they sail
In mist where thy children are lying-
As their thunders once paused in their headlong descent,
And delay'd their discharge--while thy desert was rent
With the cries of thy sons who were dying.
No chariots of fire on the clouds careerd;
No warrior-arm, with its falchion rear’d:-
No death-angel's trump o'er the ocean was blown;
No mantle of wrath o'er the heaven was thrown;
No armies of light-with their banners of flame-
Or neighing steeds—through the sunset came,
Or leaping from space appear'd!
No earthquakes reeld—no Thunderer storm’d;
No fetterless dead o'er the bright sky swarm’d;
No voices in heaven were heard !
But the hour when the sun in his pride went down,
While his parting hung rich o'er the world: While abroad o'er the sky his flush mantle was blown,
And his red-rushing streamers unfurl'd ;
An everlasting hill was torn
From its eternal base-and borne-
In gold and crimson vapors drest
To where-a people are at rest!
Slowly it came in its mountain wrath,
And the forests vanish'd before its path:
And the rude cliffs bow'd--and the waters fled-
And the living were buried, while over their head
They heard the full march of their foe as he sped
And the valley of life—was the tomb of the dead !
The clouds were all bright: no lightnings flew :
And over that valley no death-blast blew:
No storm pass’d by on his cloudy wing:
No twang was heard from the sky-archer's string-
But the dark, dim hill in its strength came down,
While the shedding of day on its summit was thrown,
A glory all light, like a wind-wreathed crown-
While the tame bird flew to the vulture's nest,
And the vulture forbore in that hour to molest.
The mountain sepulchre of all I loved!
The village sank—and the monarch trees
Lean'd back from the encountering breeze-
While this tremendous pageant moved !
The mountain forsook his perpetual throne-
Came down from his rock-and his path is shown
In barrenness and ruin-where
The secret of his power lies bare-
His rocks in nakedness arise:
His desolation mocks the skies.
On a blue summer night,
While the stars were asleep,
Like gems of the deep, In their own drowsy light;
While the newly mown hay
On the green earth lay,
And all that came near it went scented away;
From a lone woody place,
There looked out a face,
With large blue eyes,
Like the wet warm skies,
Brimful of water and light;
A profusion of hair
Flashing out on the air,
And a forehead alarmingly bright:
'Twas the head of a poet!
He grew As the sweet strange flowers of the wilderness grow,
In the dropping of natural dew,
Till his heart had blownAs the sweet strange flowers of the wilderness blow; Till every thought wore a changeable stain Like flower-leaves wet with the sunset rain:
A proud and passionate boy was he,
Like all the children of Poesy;
With a haughty look and a haughty tread,
And something awful about his head;
With wonderful eyes
Full of wo and surprise,
Like the eyes of them that can see the dead.
For a moment or two, he stood
On the shore of the mighty wood;
Then ventured out,
With a bounding step and a joyful shout,
The brave sky bending o'er him!
The broad sea all before him!