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Mountain Life

IN summer dusk the valley lies With far-flung shadow veil; A cloud-sea laps the precipice Before the evening gale: The welter of the cloud-waves grey Cuts off from keenest sight The glacier, looking out by day O'er all the district, far away, And crowned with golden light.

But o'er the smouldering cloud-wrack's flow, Where gold and amber kiss, Stands up the archipelago, A home of shining peace. The mountain eagle seems to sail A ship far seen at even; And over all a serried pale Of peaks, like giants ranked in mail, Fronts westward threatening heaven.

But look, a steading nestles, close Beneath the ice-fields bound, Where purple cliffs and glittering snows The quiet home surround. Here place and people seem to be A world apart, alone; -- Cut off from men by spate and scree It has a heaven more broad, more free, A sunshine all its own.

Look: mute the saeter-maiden stays, Half shadow, half aflame; The deep, still vision of her gaze Was never word to name. She names it not herself, nor knows What goal my be its will; While cow-bells chime and alp-horn blows It bears her where the sunset glows, Or, maybe, further still.

Too brief, thy life on highland wolds Where close the glaciers jut; Too soon the snowstorm's cloak enfolds Stone byre and pine-log hut. Then wilt thou ply with hearth ablaze The winter's well-worn tasks; -- But spin thy wool with cheerful face: One sunset in the mountain pays For all their winter asks.

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