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.
 
Austria: Martinswand, Tyrol
St. Martin’s Wall
Count Anton Alexander von Auersperg (Anastasius Grün) (1806–1876)
 
Translated by J. O. Sargent

WELCOME, ye hearts of Tyrol, which beat so honestly,
Welcome, ye glaciers of Tyrol, which bear the heavens on high,
Ye dwellings of Fidelity, ye verdant, fragrant vales,
Welcome, ye streams and pastures, freedom and mountain gales!
 
Who is the daring archer that in hunter’s costume stands,        5
In his hat the beard of the chamois and the cross-bow in his hands;
Whose eye with a youthful ardor, like the eye of a monarch, glances;
Whose heart with a quiet rapture in the sport of the hunter dances?
 
The hunter is Max of Hapsburg, on a lusty chamois chase,
Where scarcely the chamois ventures, he sweeps on the frightful race;        10
He swings himself upwards, ascending, in his course like an arrow swift,
How vigorously he clambers over crag and over clift!
 
Here over heaps of rubble, over deep abysses there,
Now on the ground close creeping, now flying through the air,
And now, hold on! No further! Now is he fast confined,        15
Chasm before, and chasms beside him, and a break-neck wall behind!
 
As he soars to the sun, the eagle holds there his earliest rest,
The strength of his wing is broken, and fallen his haughty crest,
If any one thence to the valley a road of stone would lay,
He must quarry all Tyrol and Styria for the pavement of the way.        20
 
Max had heard from his nurse in childhood all about St. Martin’s Wall,
Till at the thought a dimness on his vision seemed to fall;
He can see full well already if she painted the scenes with truth,
That he should e’er paint them to others there ’s little hope now, forsooth!
 
His throne the rocky rampart, see the princely scion stand,        25
His sceptre, the wall-lichen, he grasps with wavering hand;
Above him spreads a vista, so boundlessly displayed,
That before the dizzy prospect his senses faint and fade.
 
The vale of the inn before him an emerald carpet spreads,
Streamlet and street drawn through it like a tissue’s woven threads;        30
Far off colossal mountains to hillocks shrunk lie round,
Each one to Max appearing like an ominous churchyard mound.
 
With a blast of mighty clangor through his horn for help he calls;
On the air like a peal of thunder, but on air alone it falls;
A little devil titters from a cleft in the nearest rock,—        35
It falls far short of the valley, his stout horn’s fullest shock.
 
He blows again in his bugle, so loud that it almost breaks,
Ho, ho, what means this clamor! the shriek no succor wakes;
Were it not for the love of his people, offer what bid he may,
Max will remain here sitting till the final judgment day.        40
 
What the ear had not discovered the vision had descried,
From below they saw him swaying on the pathless mountain’s side;
There ’s a sound to heaven ascending of orisons and bells,
While from church to church in pilgrimage the tide of manhood swells.
 
At the mountain’s foot a multitude in various garb appears,        45
A priest in their midst to heaven the sacrament uprears;
Where the crowds in mingled colors in the distant valley shone,
Max saw the glance and glitter of the golden pyx alone.
*        *        *        *        *
In earnest supplication he sinks upon his knee,
Raises his eyes, invoking Heaven’s succor fervently;        50
A hand is laid on his shoulder, he starts with a thrill of fear,
“Come home, thou art in safety!” rings cheerily in his ear.
 
And he sees a brawny mountaineer before him laughing stand,
Who grasps him, and points onward with a gesture of command;
With rope and steel and ladder soon a venturous path is ready,        55
If Max’s footsteps stagger, his guardian’s hand is steady.
 
He mounts Max on his shoulders where the dizzy chasms frown,
On a fairer throne and firmer Max never sat him down;
To the valley thus descending, his course all Tyrol cheers,
Though he rides in a strange fashion, at Max no scoffer jeers.        60
 
There is an old tradition, of many ages since,
That a messenger from Heaven wrought the rescue of the prince;
Yes, indeed, it was an angel, a spirit from above,
The love of faithful Tyrol, a loyal People’s love.
 
From the precipice down-looking on the vale, a crucifix        65
Marks the spot whence Austria’s scion saw the shining of the pyx;
Still lives the ancient legend, and in song will never cease
To stir a quicker heart-beat in every Tyrolese!
 
 
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