She is seated by the river
In a robe of spotless white,
With her lovely face illumined
By the evening’s tender light;
But her eyes are full of sadness,
As if weary of the day,
And her gaze is toward the ocean,
While the river glides away.
At her feet are beds of flowers,
Overhead are stately trees
Whose protecting branches murmur
With the passing of the breeze;
Though her hand retains a volume,
From its page her glances stray,
For her thoughts are with the ocean,
As the river flows away.
As I view her chastened features,
I can feel the rising tears
At the thought of all her anguish
Through a martyrdom of years;
For her joys were writ in water,—
Too impermanent to stay,
And were swept toward sorrow’s ocean,
Ere her youth had passed away.
She was captured in the morning
Of her childhood’s careless age,
And imprisoned in a palace
Like a linnet in a cage;
And its gilded bars confined her
To a Court’s prescribed display,
Which her simple nature hated,
As the slow years crept away.
Thus her heart grew always sadder,
Till her sorrows, one by one,
Reached at last their tragic climax
In the murder of her son;
And this broken-hearted woman,
As a madman’s victim, lay
By Geneva’s placid waters,
While her life-blood ebbed away!
Hence her marble face seems troubled,
As she gazes down the stream,
Like an angel who hath wakened
From a fearful, earth-born dream;
She is waiting for the sunset
Of her tempest-darkened day,
But her soul is with the ocean,
Where all rivers wend their way.
The smile of God was in the air;
Enwreathed in veils of silvery hue,
The valley lay, divinely fair,
Beneath a cloudless vault of blue;
And singing, like a bird set free,
The river hurried to the sea.
Through Alpine ether, crystal clear,
The genial sun of South Tyrol
Diffused its blessed warmth and cheer,
Enriching body, mind and soul,
While music floated o’er the stream,
And made such beauty seem a dream.
Enraptured with the sun’s caress
And windless warmth ’mid peaks of snow,
In careless quest of happiness
The gay world sauntered to and fro,
Or, seated on the well-kept strand,
Enjoyed the music of the band.
Upon a bench, remote from those
Whose dress betokened rank or wealth,
Sat two poor waifs, whose weary pose
Betrayed a fruitless search for health,—
An aged couple, near their end,
United, yet without a friend.
But still they bravely tried to smile,
—So warm the sun, so fair the scene!—
They could be happy yet a while,
Ere death’s cold shadow crept between;
And music’s softly rhythmic flow
Recalled their youth of long ago.