THE CHAMOIS FLOCKS OF SWITZERLAND a Poem
THE CHAMOIS FLOCKS OF SWITZERLAND
HIGH rise the mountains round,
Peak pil'd o'er peak,
Across whose frozen summits
The winds blow fierce and bleak;
Like sheeted ghosts they hover,
Like wizard seers of old,
With silver locks and streaming beards
And robes of snowy fold.
Majestic over all, the brow
Of Moat Blanc casts a frown,
Crown'd with a regal diadem,—
A jewell'd, icy crown.
He soars in solemn majesty
The monarch of the scene,
While round the clouds of heaven
Pause, on his breast to lean.
Along his airy summit
And round his dazzling head
No human voice may whisper,
No daring foot may tread;
For many a frightful precipice
Yawns o'er the great abyss,
Where he would find a sepulchre
Whose step the way should miss;
Where scarce the daring hunter
Who tracks the chamois' flock,
Nor yet the toiling mountaineer,
May scale the dizzy rock.
And here, amid those lofty crags,
The timid chamois feed and roam,
Their food the aromatic herb,
The pastures of the hills their home.
Silent they move, save when a taint
Of wolf or man infects the air;
For then a hissing whistle bids
The browsing flocks beware,
For then the monarchs of the herd
With shrilly warnings beat
The earth, and run from rock to rock,
Then fly in swift retreat.
In summer heats they seek the shade,
The cool, dim shade of rock and cave,
Where white the crystal icebergs cling
And streams the verdant grasses lave,
And when the savage winter reigns
To darkest wilds they go,
Feeding on tree-bud and the shrub,
Upturning with their hoofs the snow
Then hunters in those lonely wastes
With light step stalk the prey;
But, ah, beware of hoof and horn
When game is brought to bay !
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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