The shades of night were falling fast
As thro' an Alpine village pass'd
A youth who bore 'mid snow and ice
A banner with the strange device, Excelsior.
His brow was sad,
His eye beneath flash'd like a falchion from its sheath
And like a silver clarion rung
The scents of that unknown tongue, Excelsior.
In happy homes he saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright
Above the spectral glaziers shone
And from his lips escap'd a groan, Excelsior.
Try not to pass the old man said
Dark lowers the tempest overhead
The roaring torrent is deep and wide
And loud that clarion voice replied, Excelsior.
Oh stay the maiden said and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast
A tear stood in his bright blue eye
But still he answer'd with a sigh, Excelsior.
Beware the pine trees wither'd breath
Beware the awful avalanche
This was the peasant's last good night
A voice replied far up the height, Excelsior.
At break of day as heavenward
The pious monks of Saint Bernard
Utter'd the oft repeated prayer
A voice cried thro' the startled air, Excelsior.
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.
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.
Family, Hutchinson, "Excelsior" (1843). Historic Sheet Music Collection. 416.
The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.