THE CHIMES OF LUCERNE.
Echoing long and clanging deep,
O'er the city wrapt in silence,
Resting in untroubled sleep.
As they died, the trusty watcher,
Like an echo to the bell,
Uttered in a priestly whisper
His unceasing, "All is well."
On the lake the darkling moonlight
Came and went, as did the chimes,
Brightening up the solemn darkness,
As the weird belfry's rhymes.
Now and then a scudding mist-cloud
Hid the crescent Empress' light;
Then they fled and left her glory,
Brilliant in the saintly night.
And the dizzy Mount Pilatus,
Half concealed by surging clouds,
Looked like Pilate or false Judas,
Living victims in their shrouds.
Through Lucerne the chimes rang faintly,
And then faded in the gray
Of the strange, uncertain darkness
All the mountains quite away.
And the cheery cry recalled one
To this weary world once more,
But to leave it when the echoes
Crept to silence and were o'er.
And again the moon's pale shimmer
Showed bold Rigi to the eye
Struggling to discern its outline
Shadowed on the distant sky;
While the clouds, like unknown ranges,
Fringed the city on each side,
Fading in the dimmer vastness
Of the night horizon wide.
And the Lion, in his cold niche,
Felt the grandeur of the scene;
Lived again in martyred heroes
Glorious days that once had been.
Through Lucerne the chimes rang louder,
Chanting for the noble slain,
And the lives so freely given
In a duty that was vain.
And they tolled in holy rhythm,
In the language of the bell,
How the Swiss had earned their Lion,
How they fought and how they fell.
But the darkness gathers deeper,
And the chill that tells the morn
Settled from the distant mountains,
Cut more closely by the dawn.
Then the real and the fantastic
Were distinguished to the ken,
And the creamy sky of morning
Shone where inky cliffs had been.
And the lake was shorn of silver,
But the splashing crests of blue
Showed the transformation ending,
And the night as nearly through.
Through Lucerne the chimes broke gayly,
Ushered in the rising sun,
Ringing out the noisy day-song,
Now that resting-time was done.
Faint they rang, and yet more faintly, -
But e'en now unto the ear,
Many a league away from Lucerne,
Ring the changing chimes oft clear.