Lake Como By Abram Joseph Ryan

    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.

    February 1, 1873.