Song of Alpine Guide

Thomas Buchanan Read

ON Zurich’s spires, with rosy light,

  The mountains smile at morn and eve,

And Zurich’s waters, blue and bright,

  The glories of those hills receive.

And there my sister trims her sail,

  That like a wayward swallow flies;

But I would rather meet the gale

  That fans the eagle in the skies.


She sings in Zurich’s chapel choir,

  Where rolls the organ on the air,

And bells proclaim, from spire to spire,

  Their universal call to prayer.

But let me hear the mountain rills,

  And old St. Bernard’s storm-bell toll,

And, mid these great cathedral hills,

  The thundering avalanches roll.

*        *        *        *        *

On Zurich’s side my mother sits,

  And to her whirring spindle sings.

Through Zurich’s wave my father’s nets

  Sweep daily with their filmy wings.

To that belovéd voice I list,

  And view that father’s toil and pride;

But, like a low and vale-born mist,

  My spirit climbs the mountain side.


And I would ever hear the stir

  And turmoil of the singing winds,

Whose viewless wheels around me whir,

  Whose distaffs are the swaying pines.

And, on some snowy mountain head,

  The deepest joy to me is given,

When, net-like, the great storm is spread

  To sweep the azure lake of heaven.


Then, since the vale delights me not,

  And Zurich wooes in vain below,

And it hath been my joy and lot

  To scale these Alpine crags of snow,—

And since in life I loved them well,

  Let me in death lie down with them,

And let the pines and tempests swell

  Around me their great requiem.