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by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)
Translation by Ernst Eckstein (1845 - 1900)

The shades of night were falling fast
Language: English 
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! 
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! 
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! 
"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! 
"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! 
"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! 
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! 
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!

About the headline (FAQ)

Note: this poem is parodied in "Excels‑ee‑aw".


Authorship:

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in French (Français), a translation by Charles Monselet (1825 - 1888) ; composed by Charles Callahan Perkins.

Other available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2008-06-10
Line count: 45
Word count: 238

Excelsior!
Language: German (Deutsch)  after the English 
Die Nacht sank auf die Alpenwelt,
Da kam durch's Dorf ein junger Held,
Der, ob der Schnee in Wirbeln stob,
Ein Banner mit der Schrift erhob:
       Excelsior!

Die Stirne kühn, das Auge klar,
Und Blitze sprühend, wie ein Aar.
Aus tiefster Brust die Stimme quoll,
Wie Glockenton so warm, so voll:
       Excelsior!

In sel'gen Hütten, tief im Thal
Sah er des Herdes milden Strahl, --
Vor ihm der Gletscher Überhang, --
Von seiner Lippe stöhnt es bang:
       Excelsior!

"Wag' Dich nicht wieter," sprach der Greis,
"Es droht der Sturm, es bricht das Eis.
Wild schäumt der Waldstrom, weit und tief!"
Des Jünglings kühne Stimme rief:
       Excelsior!

Das Mädchen sprach: "O bleibe hier;"
-- Im Auge stand die Thräne ihr; --
"Leg' Deine Stirn' in meine Hand!"
Er seufzt und flüstert abgewandt:
       Excelsior!

"Die Fichte stürzt in jäher Wucht,
Lawinen donnern in die Schlucht!"
Das war des Älplers letztes Wort, --
Doch rastlos treibt's den Helden fort:
       Excelsior!

Fromm knie'n, vom Morgenhauch umweht,
Sankt Bernhards Mönche im Gebet, --
Und fern von Gletscherhöhen her
Rief eine Stimme bang und schwer:
       Excelsior!

In einer Kluft verborgnem Grund
Fand ihn der Mönche treuer Hund;
Noch hielt die kalte, starre Hand
Das Banner mit dem Wort umspannt:
       Excelsior!

Bleich lag er da im Morgenroth,
Noch hold und unbesiegt im Tod:
Und rings die Alpenwelt entlang
Erscholl's wie Osterglockenklang:
       Excelsior!

Confirmed with Ernst Eckstein, In Moll und Dur, Leipzig: Verlag von Johann Friedrich Hartknoch, 1877, pages 155-157.


Authorship:

Based on:

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

    [ None yet in the database ]


Researcher for this text: Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2022-04-13
Line count: 45
Word count: 219