Once more between its walls of pines
I see the long ravine expand
To where the ice-world’s crystal lines
Define the realm of Switzerland.
Once more, a thousand feet below,
I watch the river’s silver sheen,
As, foaming in its fettered flow,
It rushes from the Engadine.
Forever young, forever old,
This gorge, where stream with forest blends,
These glittering peaks, these glaciers cold,—
Are all to me familiar friends.
I know, alas, their towering forms
Of unresponsive rocks and snow
Are heartless as their wintry storms,
And heed not if I come or go;
Yet none the less I love to trace
Their stainless crests along the sky,
And, as I greet each well-known face,
Each seems in turn to make reply.
So potent is the subtle spell
That clothes such masses with a mind;
So strong the instincts which impel
Their lover answering love to find!
What if in truth there really be
A soul within them to adore;
Some half-revealed Divinity,
Whose presence haunts us evermore?
Some Power, to read our hearts, and know
How this wild beauty moves our tears;
Some God that, as our spirits grow,
Shall be discerned in after years?
Instinctively did earlier man
See fauns and dryads in the trees,
And find in universal Pan
The soul of Nature’s mysteries.
All is divine,—the bird that sings,
The flowers that bloom, the waves that roll;
One Spirit quickens men and things,
And stirs alike the sun and soul.
Great Nature’s God! however styled,
I love thee, and upon thy breast
Would gladly lie,—a grateful child,
And, dying, trust thee for the rest.
Already ’neath the morning star
The shrine, by Juno’s favor blest,
Had flashed its whiteness from afar,
Resplendent on a mountain’s crest,
Along whose base the ocean rolled
A flood of sapphire, flecked with gold.
In twilight still the shore remained;
But, toiling upward through the night,
A wistful mother had just gained
The summit of the sacred height,
Where Juno’s far-famed statue stood,—
Palladium of motherhood.
At her approach the bolts were drawn,
And inward swung the temple gate,
Revealing in the light of dawn
The marble form immaculate,
The effigy of heaven’s queen,
Sublime, beneficent, serene.
Slow-moving and with fluttering heart,
The youthful matron onward passed
To where that masterpiece of art
Repaid her arduous toil at last;
As, gazing through a mist of tears,
She realized here the dream of years.
Beside her, one on either hand,
Two little children stood in fear,
Unable yet to understand
The reason of their coming here;
Both beautiful in form and face,
True types of the Hellenic race.