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They knelt, and rose io strength.-The valleys lay
Still in their dimness, but the heights which darted
Into the blue mid-air, had caught from day
A flush of fire, when those true Switzers parted,
Each to his glen or forest, stedfast-hearted,
And full of hope. Nor many suns had worn
Their setting glory, ere from slumber started
Ten thousand voices, of the mountains born ;
So far was heard the blast of Freedom's echoing horn.
The Ice-vaults trembled, when that peal came rending
The frozen stillness which around them hung;
From cliff to cliff the avalanche, descending,
Gave answer, till the sky's blue hollows rung!
And the flame signals through the midnight sprung,
From the Surennen Peaks (14) like banners streaming
To the far Selisberg, whence light was flung
On Grütli's field, till all the red lake gleaming,
Shone out, a meteor-Heaven in its wild splendour seeming.
And the winds toss'd each summit's blazing crest,
As a host's plumage ; and the giant pines
Fell'd where they wav'd o'er crag and eagle's nest,
Heap'd up the flames. The clouds grew fiery signs ;
As o'er a city's burning towers and shrines,
Reddening the distance. Wine-cups, crown'd and bright,
In Werner's dwelling flow'd; through leafless vines
From Walter's hearth stream'd out the festive light,
And Erni’s blind old Sire gave thanks to Heaven that night.
Then, on the silence of the snows there lay
A Sabbath's quiet sunshine--and its bell
Fill'd the hush'd air awhile with lonely sway,
For the stream's voice was bound by winter's spell,
The deep wood sounds had ceas’d. But rock and dell
Rung forth, ere long, when strains of jubilee
Burst from the mountain churches, with a swell
Of praise to Him who stills the raging sea;
For now the strife was clos'd, the glorious Alps were free!
NOTES. (1) Senn, the name given to a herdsman amongst the Swiss Alps.
(2) The dark azure, almost approaching to black, of an Alpine sky at midnight, has been frequently remarked by travellers.
(3) Many of the highest Alpine peaks are called Domes. (4) “ Like snows when winds are laid."
" Come neve in Alpi senza venti.”—Dante. (5) The Lake of the Four Cantons is sometimes called the Lake of Uri. The scenery
of its shores is wild and majestic in the highest degree. The rocks in many parts rise from the water like a wall, without leaving room even for a pathway at their feet.
(6) The meadow of Grütli covers a little craggy platform, immediately above the Laké.
(7) Tæhnwind, the wind of the south-east, which blows with such impetuosity, particularly in some parts of the Canton of Uri, as frequently to lay the country waste before it.
(8) “ The air of the Glacier was remarkably inspiring and elating from its fresh. ness and rarity. On a sudden, I was surprised to feel my face fanned by a sultry current from the south, which passed away, and then came again, like a Sirocco. On mentioning it to the guide, he said it was not uncommon, and that these warm winds were particularly felt on the Glacier des Bossons, owing to its being opposite several indentures or breaks of the Alpine chain, which give a passage to the currents of air from Italy and the South.”—Letters on a Tour in Switzerland.
(9) It is said that the Lynx is not unfrequently found in the wilder regions of the Alps.
(10) The Lammer-Geyer, the largest kind of Alpine Eagle.
(u) The eyes of ARNOLD MELCHTHAL's father had been torn out, by command of the Austrian Bailiffs, as a punishment for some instance of contumacy on the part of his son.
(12) The Oberland. The solitudes of the Upper Alps are so called in some of the Swiss Cantons.
(13) The Lake of the Four Cantons is also sometimes called the Sea of the Foresttowns.
(14) Surennen Alps, a chain of high mountains between the Cantons of Uri and Uoterwalden.
When are the lessons giv'n
That shake the startled earth ?-When wakes the foe
While the friend sleeps ?-When falls the traitor's blow ?
When are proud sceptres riv'n-
High hopes o'erthrown ?-It is, When lands rejoice,
When cities blaze, and lift th' exulting voice,
And wave their banners to the kindling heav’n.
the festal hour !
When mirth o'erflows, then tremble !—'Twas a night
Of gorgeous revel, wreaths, and dance, and light,
When through the regal bow'r
The trumpet peal’d, ere yet the song was done ;
And there were shrieks in golden Babylon,
And trampling armies, ruthless in their pow'r.
The marble shrines were crown'd;
Young voices, through the blue Athenian sky,
And Dorian reeds made summer-melody,
And censers wav'd around;
And lyres were strung, and bright libations pour'd,
When, through the streets, flash'd out th' avenging sword,
Fearless and free, the sword with myrtles bound *!
Through Rome a triumph pass'd ;
Rich in her sun-god's mantling beams went by
That long array of glorious pageantry,
With'shout and trumpet-blast.
An empire's gems their starry splendour shed
O’er the proud march ; a king in chains was led,
A victor, crown's and rob'd, came stately last +.
And many a Dryad's bow'r
Had lent the laurels, which, in waving play,
Stirr'd the warm air, and glisten'd round his way,
As a quick-flashing show'r.
O'er his own porch, meantime, the cypress hung;
Through his fair halls a cry of anguish rung-
Woe for the dead !- the father's broken flow'r!
A sound of lyre and song,
In the still night, went floating o'er the Nile,
Whose waves by many an old mysterious pile,
Swept with that voice along;
And lamps were shining o'er the red wine's foam,
Where a chief revell’d in a monarch's dome,
And fresh rose-garlands deck'd a glittering throng.
'Twas Anthony that bade
The joyous chords ring out!—but strains arose
Of wilder omen at the banquet's close !
Sounds by no mortal made I,
Shook Alexandria through her streets that night,
And pass'd—and with another sunset's light
The kingly Roman on his bier was laid.
Bright midst its vineyards lay
The fair Campanian city Ś, with its tow'rs
And temples gleaming through dark olive bow'rs,
Clear in the golden day;
Joy was around it as the glowing sky,
And crowds had fill'd its halls of revelry,
And all the sunny air was music's way.
The sword of Harmodius. + Paulius Æmilius, one of whose sons died a few days before, and another after his tri. umph upon the conquest of Macedon, when Perseus, the king of that country, was led in chains.
See the description given by Plutarch, in his life of Anthony, of the supernatural sounds heard in the streets of Alexandria the night before Anthony's death.
$ Herculaneum, of which it is related, that all the inhabitants were assembled in the theatres, when the shower of ashes which covered the city, descended.
A cloud came o'er the face
Of Italy's rich heaven!—its crystal blue
Was changed and deepen'd to a wrathful hue
Of night, o'ershadowing space,
As with the wings of death!-in all his pow'r
Vesuvius woke, and hurl'd the burning show'r,
And who could tell the buried city's place?
Such things have been of yore,
In the gay regions where the citrons blow,
And purple summers all their sleepy glow,
On the grape-clusters pour;
And where the palms to spicy winds are waving
Along clear seas of melted sapphire, laving,
As with a flow of light, their Southern shore.
Turn we to other climes !
Far in the Druid-Isle a feast was spread,
Midst the rock-altars of the warrior-dead,
And ancient battle.rhymes
Were chaunted to the harp ; and yellow mead
Went flowing round, and tales of martial deed,
And lofty songs of Britain's elder time.
But ere the giant-fane
Cast its broad shadows on the robe of even,
Hush'd were the bards, and in the face of heaven,
O’er that old burial plain
Flash'd the keen Saxon daggers ! -Blood was streaming,
Where late the mead-cup to the sun was gleaming,
And Britain's hearths were heap'd that night in vain.
For they return’d no more,
They that went forth at morn, with reckless heart,
In that fierce banquet's mirth to bear their part;
And on the rushy floor,
And the bright spears and bucklers of the walls
The high wood-fires were blazing in their halls ;
But not for them—they slept-their feast was o'er !
the festal hour !
Aye, tremble when the cup of joy o'erflows !
Tame down the swelling heart!- the bridal rose,
And the rich myrtle's flow'r,
Have veil'd the sword!-- Red wines have sparkled fast
From venom'd goblets, and soft breezes pass'd
With fatal perfume through the revel's bow'r.
• Stonehenge, said by some traditions to have been erected to the memory of Ambrosius, an early British king; and by others, mentioned as a monumental record of the massacre of British chiefs here alluded to.
Twine the young glowing wreath
But pour not all your spirit in the song,
Which through the sky's deep azure floats along,
Like summer's quick’ning breath!
The ground is hollow in the path of mirth,
Oh! far too daring seems the joy of earth,
So darkly press’d and girdled in by death!
What dost thou here, brave Swiss ?
Forgett'st thou thus thy native clime,
The lovely land of thy bright spring-time?
The land of thy home, with its free delights,
And fresh green valleys, and mountain-heights?
Can the stranger's yield thee bliss ?
What welcome cheers thee now? Dar'st thou lift thine eye to gaze around? Where are the peaks, with their snow-wreaths crown'd? Where is the song, on the wild winds borne, Or the ringing peal of the joyous horn,
Or the peasant's fearless brow ?
But thy spirit is far away!
Where a greeting waits thee in kindred eyes,
Where the white Alps look through the sunny skies,
With the low Senn* cabins, and pastures free,
And the sparkling blue of the Glacier-sea,
And the summits cloth'd with day.
Back, noble child of Tell !
Back to the wild, and the silent glen,
And the frugal board of peasant-men :
Dost thou seek the friend, the lov'd one here?
--Away ! not a true Swiss heart is near,
Against thine own to swell!
See Note (1) to “ The League of the Alps."