At dawn in silence moves the mighty stream,
The silver-crested waves no murmur make;
But far away the avalanches wake
The rumbling echoes, dull as in a dream;
Their momentary thunders, dying, seem
To fall into the stillness, flake by flake,
And leave the hollow air with naught to break
The frozen spell of solitude supreme.
At noon unnumbered rills begin to spring
Beneath the burning sun, and all the walls
Of all the ocean-blue crevasses ring
With liquid lyrics of their waterfalls;
As if a poet’s heart had felt the glow
Of sovereign love, and song began to flow.
White Death had laid his pall upon the plain,
And crowned the mountain-peaks like monarchs dead;
The vault of heaven was glaring overhead
With pitiless light that filled my eyes with pain;
And while I vainly longed, and looked in vain
For sign or trace of life, my spirit said,
“Shall any living thing that dares to tread
This royal lair of Death escape again?”
But even then I saw before my feet
A line of pointed footprints in the snow:
Some roving chamois, but an hour ago,
Had passed this way along his journey fleet,
And left a message from a friend unknown
To cheer my pilgrim-heart, no more alone.
I love the hour that comes, with dusky hair
And dewy feet, along the Alpine dells,
To lead the cattle forth. A thousand bells
Go chiming after her across the fair
And flowery uplands, while the rosy flare
Of sunset on the snowy mountain dwells,
And valleys darken, and the drowsy spells
Of peace are woven through the purple air.
Dear is the magic of this hour: she seems
To walk before the dark by falling rills,
And lend a sweeter song to hidden streams;
She opens all the doors of night, and fills
With moving bells the music of my dreams,
That wander far among the sleeping hills.
Gstaad, August, 1909.