Once more, as snow-crests far and wide
Flush crimson in the Alpine glow,
I sit and muse at eventide
On Roman days of long ago.
Across the valley, steeped in light,
Uplifted toward the western skies,
And flanked by many a snow-crowned height,
The stately “Roman Terrace” lies;
Whose fair expanse hath been a stage
Where actors for two thousand years
Have played, by turns, in every age
Their varying roles of smiles and tears.
Still through its mighty Vintschgau door
The sunset streams in floods of gold;
Still winding o’er its emerald floor,
The river sparkles as of old.
I watch the distant torrent leap
From ledge to ledge, yet hear no sound;
A ghostly path it seems, whose deep,
Swift channel cleaves enchanted ground.
Beside its waves, whose glittering spray
Begems the gorge its flood hath worn,
Rome’s conquering legions made their way
A score of years ere Christ was born.
On yonder mound where frowns the wood,
And curves the road with steep incline,
A temple to Diana stood
Before the age of Antonine.
Near Schloss Tyrol’s dismantled frame
I see the ancient watchtower stand,
Whence Caesar’s guards with smoke or flame
Flashed signals into Switzerland.
And, nearer yet, Forst’s stately walls
Loom grandly from the darkening moor,
Where still a dungeon-keep recalls
The last Tyrolean Troubadour.
Belov’d Meran! the splendid dower
That Nature gave to South Tyrol
Cannot alone explain thy power
To captivate both mind and soul;
I love thy sunshine, fruits and flowers,
I love thy mountain-peaks sublime,
But, best of all, thine aged towers,—
The ivied proteges of Time.
Thus favored, while my sun of life
Moves calmly toward a cloudless west,
I crave no more the New World’s strife
And ceaseless turmoil of unrest;
Content, within my garden walls,
To let the Present’s uproar cease,
While on my tranquil spirit falls
The Past’s sweet benison of peace.
Sink, sullen rear-guard of the storm,
Behind the Laugen’s snowy crest!
Already Rotheck’s lordly form
Stands spotless in the radiant west;
Blow, winter wind, and clarify
Our crystal air, our sapphire sky!
Shine, Sun God! Give us life once more!
Too long have clouds concealed thy face;
Give to Meran the look she wore,
When to her beauty, light, and grace
I gladly yielded heart and soul,
And made my home in fair Tyrol!
Stupendous source of life and light!
As in thy warmth my pulses thrill,
Before thy glory and thy might
I feel myself a Pagan still,
And in my spirit’s inmost shrine
I half adore thee as divine.