* * * * *
She has turned to climb the hill.
Stay! why lies she there so still?
Have her old limbs failed at last
In the chilling wintry blast?
Since for threescore years and ten
She has done the work of men,
’Tis not strange that she should fall
Weak and helpless by the wall,
Nevermore to come and go
To and from Menaggio.
Gently lift her old gray head!
Bear her homeward! She is dead.
Fallen, like a faithful horse
At the limit of its course;
Fallen on the stony road,
Uncomplaining, ’neath her load;
And the heart within her breast
For the first time finds its rest,—
Rest that it could never know
Coming from Menaggio!
Sound again, O Christmas bells!
“Peace on Earth” your song foretells.
It has come, in truth, to one
Whose long pilgrimage is done.
Merciful her quick release,
Blessed her eternal peace!
Yet I know that, day by day,
As she no more comes my way,
I shall miss her, as I go
To and from Menaggio.
Beside my garden’s ivied wall,
Enwreathed in vines of gold and green,
I stand, as evening shadows fall,
And marvel at the matchless scene,
While wavelets make, with rhythmic beat,
Perpetual music at my feet.
The year grows old,—yet on the breeze
Still floats the perfume of the rose;
Still gleams the gold of orange trees,
Regardless of the Alpine snows;
For while, above, Frost reigns as king,
Below prevails the warmth of Spring.
In Tremezzina’s sheltered bay
The wintry storms forget to rave;
Without,—the white caps and the spray,
Within,—a shore with scarce a wave,—
A favored spot where tempests cease,
And Heaven whispers, “Here is Peace.”
Across the water’s purple bloom
Bellagio, bathed in sunset light,
Surmounts the twilight’s gathering gloom
With glistening walls of pink and white,—
The wraith of some celestial strand,
The fringe of an enchanted land.
My sweet-voiced fountain softly sings
Its good-night lyric to the lake;
A skiff glides by on slender wings
With scarce a ripple in its wake;
And pleasure-boats, their canvas furled,
Float idly in an ideal world.
The swan-like steamers come and go;
The ruffled water finds its rest;
The snow-peaks catch a ruddy glow
From crimsoned cloudlets in the west;
And, trembling on the tranquil air,
Steals forth the vesper-call to prayer.
Oh, peerless strand! I yearn no more
To mingle with the maddened throng;
Enough for me this wave-kissed shore,
The vesper-bell, the fountain’s song,
The sunlit sail, the Alpine glow,
And storied towers of long ago.
Between me and the world’s unrest
The lake’s broad leagues of water lie;
Above my wave-protected nest
Serenely bends a cloudless sky;
And homeward from life’s stormy sea
The dreams of youth come back to me.