Upon a rock that, high and sheer,
Rose from the mountain's breast,
A weary hunter of the deer
Had sat him down to rest,
And bared to the soft summer air
His hot red brow and sweaty hair.
All dim in haze the mountains lay,
With dimmer vales between;
And rivers glimmered on their way,
By forests faintly seen;
While ever rose a murmuring sound,
From brooks below and bees around.
He listened, till he seemed to hear
A strain, so soft and low,
That whether in the mind or ear
The listener scarce might know.
With such a tone, so sweet and mild,
The watching mother lulls her child.
"Thou weary huntsman," thus it said,
"Thou faint with toil and heat,
The pleasant land of rest is spread
Before thy very feet,
And those whom thou wouldst gladly see
Are waiting there to welcome thee."
He looked, and 'twixt the earth and sky
Amid the noontide haze,
A shadowy region met his eye,
And grew beneath his gaze,
As if the vapours of the air
Had gathered into shapes so fair.
Groves freshened as he looked, and flowers
Showed bright on rocky bank,
And fountains welled beneath the bowers,
Where deer and pheasant drank.
He saw the glittering streams, he heard
The rustling bough and twittering bird.
And friends--the dead--in boyhood dear,
There lived and walked again,
And there was one who many a year
Within her grave had lain,
A fair young girl, the hamlet's pride--
His heart was breaking when she died:
Bounding, as was her wont, she came
Right towards his resting-place,
And stretched her hand and called his name
With that sweet smiling face.
Forward with fixed and eager eyes,
The hunter leaned in act to rise:
Forward he leaned, and headlong down
Plunged from that craggy wall;
He saw the rocks, steep, stern, and brown,
An instant, in his fall;
A frightful instant--and no more,
The dream and life at once were o'er.