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Father Ryan's Poems (50)

2006-09-08 16:13

    Lake Como

    Winter on the mountains Summer on the shore, The robes of sun-gleams woven, The lake's blue wavelets wore.

    Cold, white, against the heavens, Flashed winter's crown of snow, And the blossoms of the spring-tide Waved brightly far below.

    The mountain's head was dreary, The cold and cloud were there, But the mountain's feet were sandaled With flowers of beauty rare.

    And winding thro' the mountains The lake's calm wavelets rolled, And a cloudless sun was gilding Their ripples with its gold.

    Adown the lake we glided Thro' all the sunlit day; The cold snows gleamed above us, But fair flowers fringed our way

    The snows crept down the mountain, The flowers crept up the slope, Till they seemed to meet and mingle, Like human fear and hope.

    But the same rich, golden sunlight Fell on the flowers and snow, Like the smile of God that flashes On hearts in joy or woe.

    And on the lake's low margin The trees wore stoles of green, While here and there, amid them, A convent cross was seen.

    Anon a ruined castle, Moss-mantled, loomed in view, And cast its solemn shadow Across the water's blue.

    And chapel, cot, and villa, Met here and there our gaze, And many a crumbling tower That told of other days.

    And scattered o'er the waters The fishing boats lay still, And sound of song so softly Came echoed from the hill.

    At times the mountain's shadow Fell dark across the scene, And veiled with veil of purple The wavelets' silver sheen.

    But for a moment only The lake would wind, and lo! The waves would near the glory Of the sunlight's brightest glow.

    At times there fell a silence Unbroken by a tone, As if no sound of voices Had ever there been known.

    Through strange and lonely places We glided thus for hours; We saw no other faces But the faces of the flowers.

    The shores were sad and lonely As hearts without a love, While darker and more dreary The mountains rose above.

    But sudden round a headland The lake would sweep again, And voices from a village Would meet us with their strain.

    Thus all the day we glided, Until the Vesper bell Gave to the day, at sunset, Its sweet and soft farewell.

    Then back again we glided Upon our homeward way, When twilight wrapped the waters And the mountains with its gray.

    But brief the reign of twilight, The night came quickly on; The dark brow o'er the mountains, Star-wreathed, brightly shone.

    And down thro' all the shadows The star-gleams softly crept, And kissed, with lips all shining, The wavelets ere they slept.

    The lake lay in a slumber, The shadows for its screen, While silence waved her sceptre Above the sleeping scene.

    The spirit of the darkness Moved, ghost-like, everywhere; Wherever starlight glimmered, Its shadow, sure, fell there.

    The lone place grew more lonely, And all along our way The mysteries of the night-time Held undisputed sway.

    Thro' silence and thro' darkness We glided down the tide That wound around the mountains That rose on either side.

    No eyes would close in slumber Within our little bark; What charmed us so in daylight So awed us in the dark.

    Upon the deck we lingered, A whisper scarce was heard; When hearts are stirred profoundest, Lips are without a word.

    "Let's say the Chaplet," softly A voice beside me spake. "Christ walked once in the darkness Across an Eastern lake,

    "And to-night we know the secret That will charm Him to our side: If we call upon His Mother, He will meet us on the tide."

    So we said the beads together, Up and down the little bark; And I believe that Jesus met us, With His Mother, in the dark.

    And our prayers were scarcely ended When, on mountain-top afar, We beheld the morning meeting With the night's last fading star.

    And I left the lake; but never Shall the years to come efface From my heart the dream and vision Of that strange and lonely place.

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