Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Switzerland
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Switzerland and Austria: Vol. XVI.  1876–79.
 
Switzerland: St. Gothard
Song of the Alps
Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805)
 
Translated by Thomas Carlyle

BY the edge of the chasm is a slippery track,
The torrent beneath, and the mist hanging o’er thee;
The cliffs of the mountain, huge, rugged, and black,
Are frowning like giants before thee;
And, wouldst thou not waken the sleeping Lawine,        5
Walk silent and soft through the deadly ravine.
 
That bridge with its dizzying, perilous span
Aloft o’er the gulf and its flood suspended,
Think’st thou it was built by the art of man,
By his hand that grim old arch was bended?        10
Far down in the jaws of the gloomy abyss
The water is boiling and hissing,—forever will hiss.
 
That gate through the rocks is as darksome and drear
As if to the region of shadows it carried:
Yet enter! A sweet laughing landscape is here,        15
Where the Spring with the Autumn is married.
From the world, with its sorrows and warfare and wail,
O, could I but hide in this bright little vale!
 
Four rivers 1 rush down from on high,
Their spring will be hidden forever;        20
Their course is to all the four points of the sky,
To each point of the sky is a river;
And fast as they start from their old mother’s feet,
They dash forth, and no more will they meet.
 
Two pinnacles rise to the depths of the blue;        25
Aloft on their white summits glancing,
Bedecked in their garments of golden dew,
The clouds of the sky are dancing;
There threading alone their lightsome maze,
Uplifted apart from all mortals’ gaze.        30
 
And high on her ever-enduring throne
The queen of the mountains reposes;
Her head serene and azure and lone
A diamond crown encloses;
The sun with his darts shoots round it keen and hot,        35
He gilds it always, he warms it not.
 
Note 1. The Reus, the Rhine, the Ticino, and the Rhone. [back]
 
 
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