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Now had endurance reach'd its bounds!-They came
With courage set in each bright earnest eye,
The day, the signal, and the hour to name,
When they should gather on their hills to die,
Or shake the Glaciers with their joyous cry
For the land's freedom.-"Twas a scene, combining
All glory in itself-the solemn sky,
The stars, the waves their soften'd light enshrining,
And Man's high soul supreme o'er mighty Nature shining.
Calmly they stood, and with collected mien,
Breathing their souls in voices firm but low,
As if the spirit of the hour and scene,
With the wood's whisper, and the wave's sweet flow,
Had temper'd in their thoughtful hearts the glow
Of all indignant feeling. To the breath
Of Dorian flute, and lyre-note soft and slow,
E'en thus, of old, the Spartan from its sheath
Drew his devoted sword, and girt himself for death.
And three, that seem'd as chieftains of the band,
Were gather'd in the midst on that lone shore
By Uri's lake—a father of the land, 3
One on his brow the silent record wore
Of many days, whose shadows had pass'd o'er
His path amongst the hills, and quench'd the dreams
Of youth with sorrow.-Yet from memory's lore
Still his life's evening drew its loveliest gleams,
For he had walk'd with God, beside the mountain streams.
And his grey hairs, in happier times, might well
To their last pillow silently have
As melts a wreath of snow.-But who shall tell
How life may task the spirit?-He was one,
Who from its morn a freeman's work had done,
And reap'd his harvest, and his vintage press'd,
Fearless of wrong;-and now, at set of sun,
He bow'd not to his years, for on the breast
Of a still chainless land, he deem'd it much to rest.
But for such holy rest strong hands must toil,
Strong hearts endure !—By that pale elder's side,
Stood one that seem'd a monarch of the soil,
Serene and stately in his manhood's pride,
Werner, the brave and true!-If men have died,
Their hearths and shrines inviolate to keep,
He was a mate for such.-The voice, that cried
Within his breast, "Arise!" came still and deep
From his far home, that smil'd, e'en then, in moonlight sleep.
It was a home to die for!-as it rose,
Through its vine-foliage sending forth a sound
Of mirthful childhood, o'er the green repose
And laughing sunshine of the pastures round;
And he whose life to that sweet spot was bound,
Rais'd unto Heaven a glad, yet thoughtful eye,
And set his free step firmer on the ground,
When o'er his soul its melodies went by,
As through some Alpine pass, a breeze of Italy.
But who was he, that on his hunting-spear
Lean'd with a prouder and more fiery bearing?
-His was a brow for tyrant-hearts to fear,
Within the shadow of its dark locks wearing
That which they may not tame-a soul declaring
War against earth's oppressors.-'Midst that throng,
Of other mould he seem'd, and loftier daring,
One whose blood swept high impulses along,
One that should pass, and leave a name for warlike song,
A memory on the mountains !-one to stand,
When the hills echoed with the deepening swell
Of hostile trumpets, foremost for the land,
And in some rock-defile, or savage dell,
Array her peasant children to repel
Th' invader, sending arrows for his chains!
Ay, one to fold around him, as he fell,
Her banner with a smile-for through his veins
The joy of danger flow'd, as torrents to the plains.
There was at times a wildness in the light
Of his quick-flashing eye; a something, born
Of the free Alps, and beautifully bright,
And proud, and tameless, laughing Fear to scorn!
It well might be !-Young Erni's step had worn
The mantling snows on their most regal steeps,
And track'd the lynx above the clouds of morn,
And follow'd where the flying chamois leaps
Across the dark-blue rifts, th' unfathom'd glacier-deeps.
He was a creature of the Alpine sky,
A being, whose bright spirit had been fed
'Midst the crown'd heights with joy and liberty, And thoughts of power. He knew each path which led To the rock's treasure-caves, whose crystals shed Soft light o'er secret fountains.-At the tone Of his loud horn, the Lämmer-Geyer had spread A startled wing; for oft that peal had blown Where the free cataract's voice was wont to sound alone.