Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Cavern of the Three Tells

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

Switzerland: Grütli

The Cavern of the Three Tells

By Felicia Hemans (1793–1835)

O, ENTER not yon shadowy cave,

Seek not the bright stars there,

Though the whispering pines that o’er it wave

With freshness fill the air;

For there the Patriot Three,

In the garb of old arrayed,

By their native forest-sea

On a rocky couch are laid.

The Patriot Three that met of yore

Beneath the midnight sky,

And leagued their hearts on Grütli shore,

In the name of liberty!

Now silently they sleep

Amidst the hills they freed;

But their rest is only deep,

Till their country’s hour of need.

They start not at the hunter’s call,

Nor the Lammer-geyer’s cry,

Nor the rush of a sudden torrent’s fall,

Nor the Lanwine thundering by!

And the Alpine herdsman’s lay,

To a Switzer’s heart so dear!

On the wild wind floats away,

No more for them to hear.

But when the battle-horn is blown

Till the Schreckhorn’s peaks reply,

When the Jungfrau’s cliffs send back the tone

Through their eagle’s lonely sky;

When spear-heads light the lakes,

When trumpets loose the snows,

When the rushing war-steed shakes

The glacier’s mute repose;

When Uri’s beechen woods wave red

In the burning hamlet’s light;

Then from the cavern of the dead

Shall the sleepers wake in might!

With a leap, like Tell’s proud leap,

When away the helm he flung,

And boldly up the steep

From the flashing billow sprung!

They shall wake beside their forest-sea,

In the ancient garb they wore

When they linked the hands that made us free,

On the Grütli’s moonlight shore:

And their voices shall be heard,

And be answered with a shout,

Till the echoing Alps are stirred,

And the signal-fires blaze out.

And the land shall see such deeds again

As those of that proud day,

When Winkelried, on Sempach’s plain,

Through the serried spears made way;

And when the rocks came down

On the dark Morgarten dell,

And the crowned casques, overthrown,

Before our fathers fell!

For the Kühreihen’s notes must never sound

In a land that wears the chain,

And the vines on freedom’s holy ground

Untrampled must remain!

And the yellow harvest wave

For no stranger’s hand to reap,

While within their silent cave

The men of Grütli sleep!