White Death had laid his pall upon the
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
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
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.
Flowers rejoice when night is done,
Lift their heads to greet the sun;
Sweetest looks and odours raise,
In a silent hymn of praise.
So my heart would turn away
From the darkness to the day;
Lying open in God’s sight
Like a flower in the light.
THE PARTING AND THE COMING GUEST
Who watched the worn-out Winter die?
Who, peering through the window-pane
At nightfall, under sleet and rain
Saw the old graybeard totter by?
Who listened to his parting sigh,
The sobbing of his feeble breath,
His whispered colloquy with Death,
And when his all of life was done
Stood near to bid a last good-bye?
Of all his former friends not one
Saw the forsaken Winter die.
Who welcomed in the maiden Spring?
Who heard her footfall, swift and light
As fairy-dancing in the night?
Who guessed what happy dawn would bring
The flutter of her bluebird’s wing,
The blossom of her mayflower-face
To brighten every shady place?
One morning, down the village street,
“Oh, here am I,” we heard her sing,—
And none had been awake to greet
The coming of the maiden Spring.