The Wild Hunter

What gloomy shapes are bending,
In darkness, o'er the plain?
The distant hills ascending,
Behold! they sweep amain.
The rock and the forest re-echo the sound
Of horn and of trumpet, of horse and of hound;—
Hurra! with horn and hound,
The rocks and woods resound.

He hurries on affrighted,
The wanderer, through the gloom
Alone by flashes lighted,
He hurries to his doom!
Then it rolls from afar, like the echoing peal
Of the storm, and the mountain-tops quiver and reel,—
The quivering mountains reel,
As bursts the echoing peal!

“And whither art thou flying,
Thou wanderer, on thy way?
The heavy wind is sighing,
And see, the lightnings play.”
“But hark, from the heart of the deep-rolling cloud,
The horn of the huntsman is ringing aloud,—
From the deep-rolling cloud,
The horn rings long and loud.”

“And why so wildly straying?
Seest not, on yonder height,
Around the white walls playing,
The mellow evening light?”
“In terror I haste from that castle away;
There wildly the hounds of the dark hunter bay,—
The hounds there wildly bay;
In fear I haste away!”

“Unreal dreams affright thee;
Wild visions haunt thy soul.
Wouldst thou 'mid rocks benight thee,
When near the thunders roll?”
“The steeds are in chase, and the bay of the hound,
Keen scenting my track, is now pealing around,—
The hollow bay of hound
Peals awfully around!”

In wild despair retreating
Before the gathering host,
Through rock and forest fleeting,
He mutters, Lost! lost! lost!
Then the storm bursts above him with echoing peal!
And around him the troops of the wild hunter wheel,—
As bursts the echoing peal,
Around they dash and wheel!

And swift the host advancing,
Beneath their thundering tread,
The rocks and trees are dancing;
Their blades flash keenly red.
The woods bow before them; the cliffs crack, and pour
Their avalanche prone, 'mid the rush and the roar,—
The cliffs loud crackling pour,
Amid the rush and roar!

How sweetly dawns the morning!
The fearful night is gone.
Yon chapel bell its warning
Rings faintly all alone.
On the breeze, as it curls over meadow and lake,
Breathes the voice of the bird from her nest in the brake,
And, floating far away,
Welcomes the peaceful day!
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