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EXCELSIOR !
The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,

'Excelsior!'

His brow was sad ; his eye beneath,
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath ;
And like a silver clarion rung
The accents of that unknown tongue,

Excelsior!'

In happy homes he saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright;
Above, the spectral glaciers shone,
And from his lips escaped a groan,

'Excelsior !!

"Try not the pass !' the old man said ;
• Dark lowers the tempest overhead,
The roaring torrent is deep and wide!'
And loud that clarion voice replied,

'Excelsior!'
"O stay,' the maiden said, 'and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast !'
A tear stood in his bright blue eye,
But still he answered with a sigh,

'Excelsior !!

• Beware the pine-tree's withered branch !
Beware the awful avalanche !' 2
This was the peasant's last good-night;
A voice replied, far up the height,

· Excelsior!'

At break of day, as heavenward
The pious monks of St Bernard 3

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Her giant form,
O'er wrathful surge, through blackening storm,
Majestically calm would go
'Mid the deep darkness white as snow !
But gently now the small waves glide
Like playful lambs o'er a mountain's side.
So stately her bearing, so proud her array,
The main she will traverse for ever and aye.
Many ports will exult at the gleam of her mast !
Hush ! hush ! thou vain dreamer! this hour is her last.

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Five hundred souls in one instant of dread
Are hurried o'er the deck ;
And fast the miserable ship
Becomes a lifeless wreck.
Her keel hath struck on a hidden rock,
Her planks are torn asunder,
And down come her masts with a reeling shock,
And a hideous crash like thunder.
Her sails are draggled in the brine,
That gladdened late the skies,
And her pendant 1 that kissed the fair moonshine
Down many a fathom lies.
Her beauteous sides, whose rainbow hues
Gleamed softly from below,
And flung a warm and sunny flash
O'er the wreaths of murmuring snow,
To the coral rocks are hurrying down
To sleep amid colours as bright as their own.

Oh! many a dream was in the ship
An hour before her death;
And sights of home with sighs disturbed
The sleepers' long-drawn breath.
Instead of the murmur of the sea
The sailor heard the humming tree
Alive through all its leaves,
The hum of the spreading sycamore
That grows before his cottage door,
And the swallow's song in the eaves.
His arms enclosed a blooming boy,
Who listened with tears of sorrow and joy
To the dangers his father had passed ;
And his wife—by turns she wept and smiled,
As she looked on the father of her child
Returned to her heart at last-
He wakes at the vessel's sudden roll,
And the rush of waters is in his soul.

Now is the ocean's bosom bare,
Unbroken as the floating air;

The ship hath melted quite away,
Like a struggling dream at break of day.
No image meets my wandering eye
But the new-risen sun and the sunny sky.

Wilson.
See Pennon, note 1 of The Convict Ship, page 76.

1 Pendant,

THE WRECK OF THE HESPERUS.

It was the schooner 1 Hesperus,

That sailed the wintry sea ;
And the skipper 2 had taken his little daughter

To bear him company.

Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax,

Her cheeks like the dawn of day,
And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds,
That
ope

in the month of May.

The skipper he stood beside the helm,

His pipe was in his mouth, And he watched how the veering flaw 3 did blow

The smoke—now west, now south.

Then up and spake an old sailor,

Had sailed the Spanish Main : 'I pray thee, put into yonder port,

For I fear a hurricane.

5

‘Last night the moon had a golden ring,

And to-night no moon we see !'
The skipper he blew a whiff from his pipe,

And a scornful laugh laughed he.

Colder and louder blew the wind

A gale from the north-east;
The snow fell hissing in the brine,

And the billows frothed like yeast.

48

THE WRECK OF THE HESPERUS.

Down came the storm, and smote amain

The vessel in its strength ;
She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,

Then leaped a cable's length.

*Come hither! come hither! my little daughter,

And do not tremble so ;
For I can weather the roughest gale

That ever wind did blow.'

He wrapped her warm in his seaman's coat,

Against the stinging blast;
He cut a rope from a broken spar,

And bound her to the mast.

"O father! I hear the church-bells ring,

Oh, say, what may it be?'
“'Tis a fog-bello on a rock-bound coast!'

And he steered for the open sea.

O father! I hear the sound of guns,

Oh, say, what may it be ?'
• Some ship in distress, that cannot live

In such an angry sea !'

“O father, I see a gleaming light,

Oh, say, what may it be?'
But the father answered never a word,

A frozen corpse was he.

Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark,

With his face turned to the skies,
The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow

On his fixed and glassy eyes.

Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed

That saved she might be ;
And she thought of Christ who stilled the wave

On the Lake of Galilee.?

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