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The Lay Of The Mountain
by [?]

[The scenery of Gotthardt is here personified.]

To the solemn abyss leads the terrible path,
The life and death winding dizzy between;
In thy desolate way, grim with menace and wrath,
To daunt thee the spectres of giants are seen;
That thou wake not the wild one [1], all silently tread–
Let thy lip breathe no breath in the pathway of dread!

High over the marge of the horrible deep
Hangs and hovers a bridge with its phantom-like span, [2]
Not by man was it built, o’er the vastness to sweep;
Such thought never came to the daring of man!
The stream roars beneath–late and early it raves–
But the bridge, which it threatens, is safe from the waves.

Black-yawning a portal, thy soul to affright,
Like the gate to the kingdom, the fiend for the king–
Yet beyond it there smiles but a land of delight,
Where the autumn in marriage is met with the spring.
From a lot which the care and the trouble assail,
Could I fly to the bliss of that balm-breathing vale!

Through that field, from a fount ever hidden their birth,
Four rivers in tumult rush roaringly forth;
They fly to the fourfold divisions of earth–
The sunrise, the sunset, the south, and the north.
And, true to the mystical mother that bore,
Forth they rush to their goal, and are lost evermore.

High over the races of men in the blue
Of the ether, the mount in twin summits is riven;
There, veiled in the gold-woven webs of the dew,
Moves the dance of the clouds–the pale daughters of heaven!
There, in solitude, circles their mystical maze,
Where no witness can hearken, no earthborn surveys.

August on a throne which no ages can move,
Sits a queen, in her beauty serene and sublime, [3]
The diadem blazing with diamonds above
The glory of brows, never darkened by time,
His arrows of light on that form shoots the sun–
And he gilds them with all, but he warms them with none!

[1] The avalanche–the equivoque of the original, turning on the Swiss word Lawine, it is impossible to render intelligible to the English reader. The giants in the preceding line are the rocks that overhang the pass which winds now to the right, now to the left, of a roaring stream.

[2] The Devil’s Bridge. The Land of Delight (called in Tell “a serene valley of joy”) to which the dreary portal (in Tell the black rock gate) leads, is the Urse Vale. The four rivers, in the next stanza, are the Reus, the Rhine, the Tessin, and the Rhone.

[3] The everlasting glacier. See William Tell, act v, scene 2.