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Excelsior

by
THE SHADES of night were falling fast  
As through an Alpine village passed 
A youth who bore 'mid snow and ice  
A banner with the strange device  
Excelsior! 5 

His brow was sad; his eye beneath  
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath  
And like a silver clarion rung 
The accents of that unknown tongue  
Excelsior! 10 

In happy homes he saw the light 
Of household fires gleam warm and bright; 
Above the spectral glaciers shone  
And from his lips escaped a groan  
Excelsior! 15 

Try not the Pass! the old man said; 
Dark lowers the tempest overhead, 
The roaring torrent is deep and wide!  
And loud that clarion voice replied  
Excelsior! 20 

Oh, stay, the maiden said and rest 
Thy weary head upon this breast!  
A tear stood in his bright blue eye  
But still he answered with a sigh  
Excelsior! 25 

Beware the pine-tree's withered branch! 
Beware the awful avalanche!  
This was the peasant's last Good-night  
A voice replied far up the height  
Excelsior! 30 

At break of day as heavenward 
The pious monks of Saint Bernard 
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer  
A voice cried through the startled air  
Excelsior! 35 

A traveller by the faithful hound  
Half-buried in the snow was found  
Still grasping in his hand of ice 
That banner with the strange device  
Excelsior! 40 

There in the twilight cold and gray  
Lifeless but beautiful he lay  
And from the sky serene and far  
A voice fell like a falling star  
Excelsior! 45 

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