Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Switzerland and Austria: Vol. XVI. 1876–79.

Switzerland: Hospenthal


By Nathaniel Langdon Frothingham (1793–1870)

FULL dawn upon the heights of St. Gothard!

Wild nature and rude life!

And close-heaped dwellings where few comforts are,

Seemed with them both at strife.

The desolate church spoke little to the soul;

And yet its claim would put,

When the quaint round-tower on its rocky knoll

Invited not the foot.

The stranger entered, peering dimly round;

No being met his sight;

No sign of motion and no breath of sound

Stirred in that early light.

He walked and gazed and mused awhile, when, look!

In funeral trappings dressed,

A child its last mysterious slumber took,

Christ’s emblems on its breast.

Close by the altar’s steps they laid it out,—

Out from all harm and dearth,—

And nearer than elsewhere, they did not doubt,

To the God of heaven and earth.

He was not now alone; the newly dead

A strange, sad presence made,

Which all night long its unheard lesson read,

Through the deep double shade.

No, not alone: lo, spirits back from the Lord,

A loved, lamented crowd!

He bent, like Jacob, o’er his staff, and poured

His matin-prayer aloud.