Page images
PDF
EPUB

Enter from below a CHAMOIS HUNTER.

Chamois Hunter.

Even so

This way the chamois leapt : her nimble feet
Have baffled me; my gains to-day will scarce
Repay my break-neck travail.-What is here?
Who seems not of my trade, and yet hath reach'd
A height which none even of our mountaineers,
Save our best hunters, may attain his garb
Is goodly, his mien manly, and his air

Proud as a free-born peasant's, at this distance--
I will approach him nearer.

Man. (not perceiving the other.)

To be thus

Grey-hair'd with anguish, like these blasted pines,

Wrecks of a single winter, barkless, branchless,
A blighted trunk upon a cursed root,

Which but supplies a feeling to decay

And to be thus, eternally but thus,

Having been otherwise! Now furrow'd o'er

With wrinkles, plough'd by moments, not by years
And hours-all tortured into ages-hours

Which I outlive!-Ye toppling crags of ice!
Ye avalanches, whom a breath draws down

In mountainous o'erwhelming, come and crush me!
I hear ye momently above, beneath,

Crash with a frequent conflict; but ye pass,
And only fall on things that still would live;
On the young flourishing forest, or the hut

And hamlet of the harmless villager.

C. Hun. The mists begin to rise from up the valley; I'll warn him to descend, or he may chance

To lose at once his way and life together.

Man. The mists boil up around the glaciers; clouds Rise curling fast beneath me, white and sulphury, Like foam from the roused ocean of deep Hell,

Whose every wave breaks on a living shore,
Heap'd with the damn'd like pebbles.—I am giddy.
C. Hun. I must approach him cautiously; if near,
A sudden step will startle him, and he

Seems tottering already.

Man.

Mountains have fallen,

Leaving a gap in the clouds, and with the shock
Rocking their Alpine brethren; filling up

The ripe green valleys with destruction's splinters;
Damming the rivers with a sudden dash,
Which crush'd the waters into mist, and made
Their fountains find another channel—thus,
Thus, in its old age, did Mount Rosenberg-
Why stood I not beneath it?

C. Hun.

Friend! have a care,

Your next step may be fatal ! -for the love

Of Him who made you, stand not on that brink!
Man. (not hearing him.) Such would have been for
me a fitting tomb;

My bones had then been quiet in their depth;
They had not then been strewn upon the rocks
For the wind's pastime—as thus-thus they shall be—
In this one plunge.-Farewell, ye opening heavens !
Look not upon me thus reproachfully—

Ye were not meant for me- -Earth! take these atoms!
[AS MANFRED is in act to spring from the cliff,

the CHAMOIS HUNTER seizes and retains him with a sudden grasp.

C. Hun. Hold, madman !—though aweary of thy life, Stain not our pure vales with thy guilty blood. Away with me▬▬▬ -I will not quit my hold.

Man. I am most sick at heart-nay, grasp me notI am all feebleness-the mountains whirl

Spinning around me- I grow blind

thou?

-What art

C. Hun. I'll answer that anon.-Away with me—— The clouds grow thicker-there-now lean on me— Place your foot here-here, take this staff, and cling A moment to that shrub—now give me your hand, And hold fast by my girdle-softly—well— The Chalet will be gain'd within an hourCome on, we'll quickly find a surer footing, And something like a pathway, which the torrent Hath wash'd since winter.-Come, 'tis bravely done— You should have been a hunter.-Follow me.

[They descend the rocks.

THE WITCH OF THE ALPS.

(MANFRED, Act ii. Scene 2.)

A lower Valley in the Alps.-A Cataract.

Enter MANFRED.

It is not noon-the sunbow's rays still arch
The torrent with the many hues of heaven,
And roll the sheeted silver's waving column
O'er the crag's headlong perpendicular,
And fling its lines of foaming light along,
And to and fro, like the pale courser's tail,
The Giant steed, to be bestrode by Death,
As told in the Apocalypse. No eyes
But mine now drink this sight of loveliness;
I should be sole in this sweet solitude,
And with the Spirit of the place divide
The homage of these waters.—I will call her.

[MANFRED takes some of the water into the palm
of his hand, and flings it into the air, muttering
the adjuration. After a pause, the WITCH OF
THE ALPS rises beneath the arch of the sunbow
of the torrent.

Beautiful Spirit! with thy hair of light,

And dazzling eyes of glory, in whose form

The charms of earth's least mortal daughters grow
To an unearthly stature, in an essence

Of purer elements; while the hues of youth,—
Carnation'd like a sleeping infant's cheek,

Rock'd by the beating of her mother's heart,
Or the rose tints, which summer's twilight leaves
Upon the lofty glacier's virgin snow,

The blush of earth embracing with her heaven,—
Tinge thy celestial aspect, and make tame

The beauties of the sunbow which bends o'er thee.
Beautiful Spirit! in thy calm clear brow,
Wherein is glass'd serenity of soul,
Which of itself shows immortality,
I read that thou wilt pardon to a Son
Of Earth, whom the abstruser powers permit
At times to commune with them-if that he
Avail him of his spells-to call thee thus,
And gaze on thee a moment.

Witch.

Son of Earth!

I know thee, and the powers which give thee power;
I know thee for a man of many thoughts,

And deeds of good and ill, extreme in both,
Fatal and fated in thy sufferings.

I have expected this—what would'st thou with me?
Man. To look upon thy beauty-nothing further.
The face of the earth hath madden'd me, and I
Take refuge in her mysteries, and pierce

To the abodes of those who govern her—
But they can nothing aid me. I have sought
From them what they could not bestow, and now
I search no further.

Witch. What could be the quest

Which is not in the power of the most powerful,
The rulers of the invisible?

Man.

A boon;

But why should I repeat it? 'twere in vain.

Witch. I know not that; let thy lips utter it. Man. Well, though it torture me, 'tis but the same; My pang shall find a voice. From my youth upwards

« PreviousContinue »