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Came through the jaws of Death
Left of six hundred.
When can their glory fade?
A LEGEND OF BREGENZ.
GIRT round with rugged mountains the fair Lake Constance 1 lies;
In her blue heart reflected, shine back the starry skies; And, watching each white cloudlet float silently and
You think a piece of heaven lies on our earth below!
Midnight is there; and silence, enthroned in heaven, looks down
Upon her own calm mirror, upon a sleeping town:
Her battlements and towers, upon their rocky steep, Have cast their trembling shadows for ages on the deep;
Mountain and lake and valley, a sacred legend know, Of how the town was saved one night, three hundred
Far from her home and kindred a Tyrol maid had fled, To serve in the Swiss valleys, and toil for daily bread;
1 Lake Constance: a lake on the borders of Switzerland, Austria [the Tyrol], and Germany. Bregenz (g hard).
8 Tyrol (Tir'rol or Te-rōl'); a province of Austria.
And every year that fleeted so silently and fast
She served kind, gentle masters, nor ask'd for rest or change;
Her friends seem'd no more new ones, their speech seem'd no more strange;
And, when she led her cattle to pasture every day,
She spoke no more of Bregenz, with longing and with tears;
Her Tyrol home seem'd faded in a deep mist of years; She heeded not the rumors of Austrian war or strife; Each day she rose, contented, to the calm toils of life.
Yet, when her master's children would clustering round her stand,
She sang them the old ballads of her own native land; And, when at morn and evening she knelt before God's
The accents of her childhood rose to her lips alone.
And so she dwelt: the valley more peaceful year by
When suddenly strange portents of some great deed seem'd near.
The golden corn was bending upon its fragile stalk, While farmers, heedless of their fields, paced up and down in talk.
1 Portents: signs of coming events, especially of evil or calamity.
The men seem'd stern and alter'd, with looks cast on
With anxious faces, one by one, the women gather'd
All talk of flax, or spinning, or work, was put away; The very children seem'd afraid to go alone to play.
One day, out in the meadow with strangers from the town,
Some secret plan discussing, the men walk'd up and
Yet now and then seem'd watching a strange, uncertain
That look'd like lances 'mid the trees that stood below the stream.
At eve they all assembled, all care and doubt were
With jovial laugh they feasted, the board was nobly
The elder of the village rose up, his glass in hand,
And cried, "We drink the downfall of an accursed
"The night is growing darker; ere one more day is flown
Bregenz, our foeman's stronghold, Bregenz shall be our own!"
The women shrank in terror, (yet pride, too, had her
But one poor Tyrol maiden felt death within her heart.
Before her stood fair Bregenz, once more her towers
What were the friends beside her? Only her country's foes!
The faces of her kinsfolk, the days of childhood flown, The echoes of her mountains, reclaim'd her as their own!
Nothing she heard around her, (though shouts rang forth again,)
Gone were the green Swiss valleys, the pasture, and the plain;
Before her eyes one vision, and in her heart one cry, That said, "Go forth, save Bregenz, and then, if need be, die!"
With trembling haste and breathless, with noiseless step she sped;
Horses and weary cattle were standing in the shed; She loosed the strong white charger,1 that fed from out her hand,
She mounted and she turn'd his head toward her native land.
Out — out into the darkness faster, and still more
The smooth grass flies behind her, the chestnut wood is pass'd;
She looks up; clouds are heavy: Why is her steed so
Scarcely the wind beside them can pass them as they
1 Charger: a war-horse or one suitable for use in battle.