MICHAEL ANGELO. Dear Benvenuto, I recognized the latent genius in you, But feared your vices.
BENVENUTO. I have turned them all To virtues. My impatient, wayward nature, That made me quick in quarrel, now has served me Where meekness could not, and where patience could not, As you shall hear now. I have cast in bronze A statue of Perseus, holding thus aloft In his left hand the head of the Medusa, And in his right the sword that severed it; His right foot planted on the lifeless corse; His face superb and pitiful, with eyes Down-looking on the victim of his vengeance.
MICHAEL ANGELO. I see it as it should be.
BENVENUTO. As it will be When it is placed upon the Ducal Square, Half-way between your David and the Judith Of Donatello.
MICHAEL ANGELO. Rival of them both!
BENVENUTO. But ah, what infinite trouble have I had With Bandinello, and that stupid beast, The major-domo of Duke Cosimo, Francesco Ricci, and their wretched agent Gorini, who came crawling round about me Like a black spider, with his whining voice That sounded like the buzz of a mosquito! Oh, I have wept in utter desperation, And wished a thousand times I had not left My Tour do Nesle, nor e'er returned to Florence, Or thought of Perseus. What malignant falsehoods They told the Grand Duke, to impede my work, And make me desperate!
MICHAEL ANGELO. The nimble lie Is like the second-hand upon a clock; We see it fly; while the hour-hand of truth Seems to stand still, and yet it moves unseen, And wins at last, for the clock will not strike Till it has reached the goal.
BENVENUTO. My obstinacy Stood me in stead, and helped me to o'ercome The hindrances that envy and ill-will Put in my way.
MICHAEL ANGELO. When anything is done People see not the patient doing of it, Nor think how great would be the loss to man If it had not been done. As in a building Stone rests on stone, and wanting the foundation All would be wanting, so in human life Each action rests on the foregone event, That made it possible, but is forgotten And buried in the earth.
BENVENUTO. Even Bandinello, Who never yet spake well of anything, Speaks well of this; and yet he told the Duke That, though I cast small figures well enough, I never could cast this.
MICHAEL ANGELO. But you have done it, And proved Ser Bandinello a false prophet. That is the wisest way.
BENVENUTO. And ah, that casting What a wild scene it was, as late at night, A night of wind and rain, we heaped the furnace With pine of Serristori, till the flames Caught in the rafters over us, and threatened To send the burning roof upon our heads; And from the garden side the wind and rain Poured in upon us, and half quenched our fires. I was beside myself with desperation. A shudder came upon me, then a fever; I thought that I was dying, and was forced To leave the work-shop, and to throw myself Upon my bed, as one who has no hope. And as I lay there, a deformed old man Appeared before me, and with dismal voice, Like one who doth exhort a criminal Led forth to death, exclaimed, "Poor Benvenuto, Thy work is spoiled! There is no remedy!" Then, with a cry so loud it might have reached The heaven of fire, I bounded to my feet, And rushed back to my workmen. They all stood Bewildered and desponding; and I looked Into the furnace, and beheld the mass Half molten only, and in my despair I fed the fire with oak, whose terrible heat Soon made the sluggish metal shine and sparkle. Then followed a bright flash, and an explosion, As if a thunderbolt had fallen among us. The covering of the furnace had been rent Asunder, and the bronze was flowing over; So that I straightway opened all the sluices To fill the mould. The metal ran like lava, Sluggish and heavy; and I sent my workmen To ransack the whole house, and bring together My pewter plates and pans, two hundred of them, And cast them one by one into the furnace To liquefy the mass, and in a moment The mould was filled! I fell upon my knees And thanked the Lord; and then we ate and drank And went to bed, all hearty and contented. It was two hours before the break of day. My fever was quite gone.
MICHAEL ANGELO. A strange adventure, That could have happened to no man alive But you, my Benvenuto.
BENVENUTO. As my workmen said To major-domo Ricci afterward, When he inquired of them: "'T was not a man, But an express great devil."
MICHAEL ANGELO. And the statue?
BENVENUTO. Perfect in every part, save the right foot Of Perseus, as I had foretold the Duke. There was just bronze enough to fill the mould; Not a drop over, not a drop too little. I looked upon it as a miracle Wrought by the hand of God.
MICHAEL ANGELO. And now I see How you have turned your vices into virtues.
BENVENUTO. But wherefore do I prate of this? I came To speak of other things. Duke Cosimo Through me invites you to return to Florence, And offers you great honors, even to make you One of the Forty-Eight, his Senators.
MICHAEL ANGELO. His Senators! That is enough. Since Florence Was changed by Clement Seventh from a Republic Into a Dukedom, I no longer wish To be a Florentine. That dream is ended. The Grand Duke Cosimo now reigns supreme; All liberty is dead. Ah, woe is me! I hoped to see my country rise to heights Of happiness and freedom yet unreached By other nations, but the climbing wave Pauses, lets go its hold, and slides again Back to the common level, with a hoarse Death rattle in its throat. I am too old To hope for better days. I will stay here And die in Rome. The very weeds, that grow Among the broken fragments of her ruins, Are sweeter to me than the garden flowers Of other cities; and the desolate ring Of the Campagna round about her walls Fairer than all the villas that encircle The towns of Tuscany.
BENVENUTO. But your old friends!
MICHAEL ANGELO. All dead by violence. Baccio Valori Has been beheaded; Guicciardini poisoned; Philippo Strozzi strangled in his prison. Is Florence then a place for honest men To flourish in? What is there to prevent My sharing the same fate?
BENVENUTO. Why this: if all Your friends are dead, so are your enemies.
MICHAEL ANGELO. Is Aretino dead?
BENVENUTO. He lives in Venice, And not in Florence.
MICHAEL ANGELO. 'T is the same to me This wretched mountebank, whom flatterers Call the Divine, as if to make the word Unpleasant in the mouths of those who speak it And in the ears of those who hear it, sends me A letter written for the public eye, And with such subtle and infernal malice, I wonder at his wickedness. 'T is he Is the express great devil, and not you. Some years ago he told me how to paint The scenes of the Last Judgment.
BENVENUTO. I remember.
MICHAEL ANGELO. Well, now he writes to me that, as a Christian, He is ashamed of the unbounded freedom With which I represent it.
MICHAEL ANGELO. He says I show mankind that I am wanting In piety and religion, in proportion As I profess perfection in my art. Profess perfection? Why, 't is only men Like Bugiardini who are satisfied With what they do. I never am content, But always see the labors of my hand Fall short of my conception.
BENVENUTO. I perceive The malice of this creature. He would taint you With heresy, and in a time like this! 'T is infamous!
MICHAEL ANGELO. I represent the angels Without their heavenly glory, and the saints Without a trace of earthly modesty.
BENVENUTO. Incredible audacity!
MICHAEL ANGELO. The heathen Veiled their Diana with some drapery, And when they represented Venus naked They made her by her modest attitude, Appear half clothed. But I, who am a Christian, Do so subordinate belief to art That I have made the very violation Of modesty in martyrs and in virgins A spectacle at which all men would gaze With half-averted eyes even in a brothel.
BENVENUTO. He is at home there, and he ought to know What men avert their eyes from in such places; From the Last Judgment chiefly, I imagine.
MICHAEL ANGELO. But divine Providence will never leave The boldness of my marvellous work unpunished; And the more marvellous it is, the more 'T is sure to prove the ruin of my fame! And finally, if in this composition I had pursued the instructions that he gave me Concerning heaven and hell and paradise, In that same letter, known to all the world, Nature would not be forced, as she is now, To feel ashamed that she invested me With such great talent; that I stand myself A very idol in the world of art. He taunts me also with the Mausoleum Of Julius, still unfinished, for the reason That men persuaded the inane old man It was of evil augury to build His tomb while he was living; and he speaks Of heaps of gold this Pope bequeathed to me, And calls it robbery;—that is what he says. What prompted such a letter?
BENVENUTO. Vanity. He is a clever writer, and he likes To draw his pen, and flourish it in the face Of every honest man, as swordsmen do Their rapiers on occasion, but to show How skilfully they do it. Had you followed The advice he gave, or even thanked him for it, You would have seen another style of fence. 'T is but his wounded vanity, and the wish To see his name in print. So give it not A moment's thought; it soon will be forgotten.
MICHAEL ANGELO. I will not think of it, but let it pass For a rude speech thrown at me in the street, As boys threw stones at Dante.
BENVENUTO. And what answer Shall I take back to Grand Duke Cosimo? He does not ask your labor or your service; Only your presence in the city of Florence, With such advice upon his work in hand As he may ask, and you may choose to give.
MICHAEL ANGELO. You have my answer. Nothing he can offer Shall tempt me to leave Rome. My work is here, And only here, the building of St. Peter's. What other things I hitherto have done Have fallen from me, are no longer mine; I have passed on beyond them, and have left them As milestones on the way. What lies before me, That is still mine, and while it is unfinished No one shall draw me from it, or persuade me, By promises of ease, or wealth, or honor, Till I behold the finished dome uprise Complete, as now I see it in my thought.
BENVENUTO. And will you paint no more?
MICHAEL ANGELO. No more.
BENVENUTO. 'T is well. Sculpture is more divine, and more like Nature, That fashions all her works in high relief, And that is sculpture. This vast ball, the Earth, Was moulded out of clay, and baked in fire; Men, women, and all animals that breathe Are statues, and not paintings. Even the plants, The flowers, the fruits, the grasses, were first sculptured, And colored later. Painting is a lie, A shadow merely.
MICHAEL ANGELO. Truly, as you say, Sculpture is more than painting. It is greater To raise the dead to life than to create Phantoms that seem to live. The most majestic Of the three sister arts is that which builds; The eldest of them all, to whom the others Are but the hand-maids and the servitors, Being but imitation, not creation. Henceforth I dedicate myself to her.
BENVENUTO. And no more from the marble hew those forms That fill us all with wonder?
MICHAEL ANGELO. Many statues Will there be room for in my work. Their station Already is assigned them in my mind. But things move slowly. There are hindrances, Want of material, want of means, delays And interruptions, endless interference Of Cardinal Commissioners, and disputes And jealousies of artists, that annoy me. But twill persevere until the work Is wholly finished, or till I sink down Surprised by death, that unexpected guest, Who waits for no man's leisure, but steps in, Unasked and unannounced, to put a stop To all our occupations and designs. And then perhaps I may go back to Florence; This is my answer to Duke Cosimo.
MICHAEL ANGELO'S STUDIO
MICHAEL ANGELO and URBINO.
MICHAEL ANGELO, pausing in his work. Urbino, thou and I are both old men. My strength begins to fail me.
URBINO. Eccellenza. That is impossible. Do I not see you Attack the marble blocks with the same fury As twenty years ago?
MICHAEL ANGELO. 'T is an old habit. I must have learned it early from my nurse At Setignano, the stone-mason's wife; For the first sounds I heard were of the chisel chipping away the stone.
URBINO. At every stroke You strike fire with your chisel.
MICHAEL ANGELO. Ay, because The marble is too hard.
URBINO. It is a block That Topolino sent you from Carrara. He is a judge of marble.
MICHAEL ANGELO. I remember. With it he sent me something of his making,— A Mercury, with long body and short legs, As if by any possibility A messenger of the gods could have short legs. It was no more like Mercury than you are, But rather like those little plaster figures That peddlers hawk about the villages As images of saints. But luckily For Topolino, there are many people Who see no difference between what is best And what is only good, or not even good; So that poor artists stand in their esteem On the same level with the best, or higher.
URBINO. How Eccellenza laughed!
MICHAEL ANGELO. Poor Topolino! All men are not born artists, nor will labor E'er make them artists.
URBINO. No, no more Than Emperors, or Popes, or Cardinals. One must be chosen for it. I have been Your color-grinder six and twenty years, And am not yet an artist.
MICHAEL ANGELO. Some have eyes That see not; but in every block of marble I see a statue,—see it as distinctly As if it stood before me shaped and perfect In attitude and action. I have only To hew away the stone walls that imprison The lovely apparition, and reveal it To other eyes as mine already see it. But I grow old and weak. What wilt thou do When I am dead, Urbino?
URBINO. Eccellenza, I must then serve another master.
MICHAEL ANGELO. Never! Bitter is servitude at best. Already So many years hast thou been serving me; But rather as a friend than as a servant. We have grown old together. Dost thou think So meanly of this Michael Angelo As to imagine he would let thee serve, When he is free from service? Take this purse, Two thousand crowns in gold.
URBINO. Two thousand crowns!
MICHAEL ANGELO. Ay, it will make thee rich. Thou shalt not die A beggar in a hospital.
URBINO. Oh, Master!
MICHAEL ANGELO. I cannot have them with me on the journey That I am undertaking. The last garment That men will make for me will have no pockets.
URBINO, kissing the hand of MICHAEL ANGELO. My generous master!
MICHAEL ANGELO. Hush!
URBINO. My Providence!
MICHAEL ANGELO. Not a word more. Go now to bed, old man. Thou hast served Michael Angelo. Remember, Henceforward thou shalt serve no other master.
THE OAKS OF MONTE LUCA
MICHAEL ANGELO, alone in the woods.
MICHAEL ANGELO. How still it is among these ancient oaks! Surges and undulations of the air Uplift the leafy boughs, and let them fall With scarce a sound. Such sylvan quietudes Become old age. These huge centennial oaks, That may have heard in infancy the trumpets Of Barbarossa's cavalry, deride Man's brief existence, that with all his strength He cannot stretch beyond the hundredth year. This little acorn, turbaned like the Turk, Which with my foot I spurn, may be an oak Hereafter, feeding with its bitter mast The fierce wild boar, and tossing in its arms The cradled nests of birds, when all the men That now inhabit this vast universe, They and their children, and their children's children, Shall be but dust and mould, and nothing more. Through openings in the trees I see below me The valley of Clitumnus, with its farms And snow-white oxen grazing in the shade Of the tall poplars on the river's brink. O Nature, gentle mother, tender nurse! I who have never loved thee as I ought, But wasted all my years immured in cities, And breathed the stifling atmosphere of streets, Now come to thee for refuge. Here is peace. Yonder I see the little hermitages Dotting the mountain side with points of light, And here St. Julian's convent, like a nest Of curlews, clinging to some windy cliff. Beyond the broad, illimitable plain Down sinks the sun, red as Apollo's quoit, That, by the envious Zephyr blown aside, Struck Hyacinthus dead, and stained the earth With his young blood, that blossomed into flowers. And now, instead of these fair deities Dread demons haunt the earth; hermits inhabit The leafy homes of sylvan Hamadryads; And jovial friars, rotund and rubicund, Replace the old Silenus with his ass.
Here underneath these venerable oaks, Wrinkled and brown and gnarled like them with age, A brother of the monastery sits, Lost in his meditations. What may be The questions that perplex, the hopes that cheer him? Good-evening, holy father.
MONK. God be with you.
MICHAEL ANGELO. Pardon a stranger if he interrupt Your meditations.
MONK. It was but a dream,— The old, old dream, that never will come true; The dream that all my life I have been dreaming, And yet is still a dream.
MICHAEL ANGELO. All men have dreams: I have had mine; but none of them came true; They were but vanity. Sometimes I think The happiness of man lies in pursuing, Not in possessing; for the things possessed Lose half their value. Tell me of your dream.
MONK. The yearning of my heart, my sole desire, That like the sheaf of Joseph stands up right, While all the others bend and bow to it; The passion that torments me, and that breathes New meaning into the dead forms of prayer, Is that with mortal eyes I may behold The Eternal City.
MICHAEL ANGELO. Rome?
MONK. There is but one; The rest are merely names. I think of it As the Celestial City, paved with gold, And sentinelled with angels.
MICHAEL ANGELO. Would it were. I have just fled from it. It is beleaguered By Spanish troops, led by the Duke of Alva.
MONK. But still for me 't is the Celestial City, And I would see it once before I die.
MICHAEL ANGELO. Each one must bear his cross.
MONK. Were it a cross That had been laid upon me, I could bear it, Or fall with it. It is a crucifix; I am nailed hand and foot, and I am dying!
MICHAEL ANGELO. What would you see in Rome?
MONK. His Holiness.
MICHAEL ANGELO. Him that was once the Cardinal Caraffa? You would but see a man of fourscore years, With sunken eyes, burning like carbuncles, Who sits at table with his friends for hours, Cursing the Spaniards as a race of Jews And miscreant Moors. And with what soldiery Think you he now defends the Eternal City?
MONK. With legions of bright angels.
MICHAEL ANGELO. So he calls them; And yet in fact these bright angelic legions Are only German Lutherans.
MONK, crossing himself. Heaven protect us?
MICHAEL ANGELO. What further would you see?
MONK. The Cardinals, Going in their gilt coaches to High Mass.
MICHAEL ANGELO. Men do not go to Paradise in coaches.
MONK. The catacombs, the convents, and the churches; The ceremonies of the Holy Week In all their pomp, or, at the Epiphany, The Feast of the Santissima Bambino At Ara Coeli. But I shall not see them.
MICHAEL ANGELO. These pompous ceremonies of the Church Are but an empty show to him who knows The actors in them. Stay here in your convent, For he who goes to Rome may see too much. What would you further?
MONK. I would see the painting of the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel.
MICHAEL ANGELO. The smoke of incense and of altar candles Has blackened it already.
MONK. Woe is me! Then I would hear Allegri's Miserere, Sung by the Papal choir.
MICHAEL ANGELO. A dismal dirge! I am an old, old man, and I have lived In Rome for thirty years and more, and know The jarring of the wheels of that great world, Its jealousies, its discords, and its strife. Therefore I say to you, remain content Here in your convent, here among your woods, Where only there is peace. Go not to Rome. There was of old a monk of Wittenberg Who went to Rome; you may have heard of him; His name was Luther; and you know what followed.
[The convent bell rings.
MONK, rising. It is the convent bell; it rings for vespers. Let us go in; we both will pray for peace.
THE DEAD CHRIST.
MICHAEL ANGELO'S studio. MICHAEL ANGELO, with a light, working upon the Dead Christ. Midnight.
MICHAEL ANGELO. O Death, why is it I cannot portray Thy form and features? Do I stand too near thee? Or dost thou hold my hand, and draw me back, As being thy disciple, not thy master? Let him who knows not what old age is like Have patience till it comes, and he will know. I once had skill to fashion Life and Death And Sleep, which is the counterfeit of Death; And I remember what Giovanni Strozzi Wrote underneath my statue of the Night In San Lorenzo, ah, so long ago!
Grateful to me is sleep! More grateful now Than it was then; for all my friends are dead; And she is dead, the noblest of them all. I saw her face, when the great sculptor Death, Whom men should call Divine, had at a blow Stricken her into marble; and I kissed Her cold white hand. What was it held me back From kissing her fair forehead, and those lips, Those dead, dumb lips? Grateful to me is sleep!
Enter GIORGIO VASARI.
GIORGIO. Good-evening, or good-morning, for I know not Which of the two it is.
MICHAEL ANGELO. How came you in?
GIORGIO. Why, by the door, as all men do.
MICHAEL ANGELO. Ascanio Must have forgotten to bolt it.
GIORGIO. Probably. Am I a spirit, or so like a spirit, That I could slip through bolted door or window? As I was passing down the street, I saw A glimmer of light, and heard the well-known chink Of chisel upon marble. So I entered, To see what keeps you from your bed so late.
MICHAEL ANGELO, coming forward with the lamp. You have been revelling with your boon companions, Giorgio Vasari, and you come to me At an untimely hour.
GIORGIO. The Pope hath sent me. His Holiness desires to see again The drawing you once showed him of the dome Of the Basilica.
MICHAEL ANGELO. We will look for it.
GIORGIO. What is the marble group that glimmers there Behind you?
MICHAEL ANGELO. Nothing, and yet everything,— As one may take it. It is my own tomb, That I am building.
GIORGIO. Do not hide it from me. By our long friendship and the love I bear you, Refuse me not!
MICHAEL ANGELO, letting fall the lamp. Life hath become to me An empty theatre,—its lights extinguished, The music silent, and the actors gone; And I alone sit musing on the scenes That once have been. I am so old that Death Oft plucks me by the cloak, to come with him And some day, like this lamp, shall I fall down, And my last spark of life will be extinguished. Ah me! ah me! what darkness of despair! So near to death, and yet so far from God!
As treasures that men seek, Deep-buried in sea-sands, Vanish if they but speak, And elude their eager hands,
So ye escape and slip, O songs, and fade away, When the word is on my lip To interpret what ye say.
Were it not better, then, To let the treasures rest Hid from the eyes of men, Locked in their iron chest?
I have but marked the place, But half the secret told, That, following this slight trace, Others may find the gold.
FROM THE SPANISH
COPLAS DE MANRIQUE. O let the soul her slumbers break, Let thought be quickened, and awake; Awake to see How soon this life is past and gone, And death comes softly stealing on, How silently!
Swiftly our pleasures glide away, Our hearts recall the distant day With many sighs; The moments that are speeding fast We heed not, but the past,—the past, More highly prize.
Onward its course the present keeps, Onward the constant current sweeps, Till life is done; And, did we judge of time aright, The past and future in their flight Would be as one.
Let no one fondly dream again, That Hope and all her shadowy train Will not decay; Fleeting as were the dreams of old, Remembered like a tale that's told, They pass away.
Our lives are rivers, gliding free To that unfathomed, boundless sea, The silent grave! Thither all earthly pomp and boast Roll, to be swallowed up and lost In one dark wave.
Thither the mighty torrents stray, Thither the brook pursues its way, And tinkling rill, There all are equal; side by side The poor man and the son of pride Lie calm and still.
I will not here invoke the throng Of orators and sons of song, The deathless few; Fiction entices and deceives, And, sprinkled o'er her fragrant leaves, Lies poisonous dew.
To One alone my thoughts arise, The Eternal Truth, the Good and Wise, To Him I cry, Who shared on earth our common lot, But the world comprehended not His deity.
This world is but the rugged road Which leads us to the bright abode Of peace above; So let us choose that narrow way, Which leads no traveller's foot astray From realms of love,
Our cradle is the starting-place, Life is the running of the race, We reach the goal When, in the mansions of the blest, Death leaves to its eternal rest The weary soul.
Did we but use it as we ought, This world would school each wandering thought To its high state. Faith wings the soul beyond the sky, Up to that better world on high, For which we wait.
Yes, the glad messenger of love, To guide us to our home above, The Saviour came; Born amid mortal cares and fears. He suffered in this vale of tears A death of shame.
Behold of what delusive worth The bubbles we pursue on earth, The shapes we chase, Amid a world of treachery! They vanish ere death shuts the eye, And leave no trace.
Time steals them from us, chances strange, Disastrous accident, and change, That come to all; Even in the most exalted state, Relentless sweeps the stroke of fate; The strongest fall.
Tell me, the charms that lovers seek In the clear eye and blushing cheek, The hues that play O'er rosy lip and brow of snow, When hoary age approaches slow, Ah; where are they?
The cunning skill, the curious arts, The glorious strength that youth imparts In life's first stage; These shall become a heavy weight, When Time swings wide his outward gate To weary age.
The noble blood of Gothic name, Heroes emblazoned high to fame, In long array; How, in the onward course of time, The landmarks of that race sublime Were swept away!
Some, the degraded slaves of lust, Prostrate and trampled in the dust, Shall rise no more; Others, by guilt and crime, maintain The scutcheon, that without a stain, Their fathers bore.
Wealth and the high estate of pride, With what untimely speed they glide, How soon depart! Bid not the shadowy phantoms stay, The vassals of a mistress they, Of fickle heart.
These gifts in Fortune's hands are found; Her swift revolving wheel turns round, And they are gone! No rest the inconstant goddess knows, But changing, and without repose, Still hurries on.
Even could the hand of avarice save Its gilded baubles till the grave Reclaimed its prey, Let none on such poor hopes rely; Life, like an empty dream, flits by, And where are they?
Earthly desires and sensual lust Are passions springing from the dust, They fade and die; But in the life beyond the tomb, They seal the immortal spirits doom Eternally!
The pleasures and delights, which mask In treacherous smiles life's serious task, What are they, all, But the fleet coursers of the chase, And death an ambush in the race, Wherein we fall?
No foe, no dangerous pass, we heed, Brook no delay, but onward speed With loosened rein; And, when the fatal snare is near, We strive to check our mad career, But strive in vain.
Could we new charms to age impart, And fashion with a cunning art The human face, As we can clothe the soul with light, And make the glorious spirit bright With heavenly grace,
How busily each passing hour Should we exert that magic power, What ardor show, To deck the sensual slave of sin, Yet leave the freeborn soul within, In weeds of woe!
Monarchs, the powerful and the strong, Famous in history and in song Of olden time, Saw, by the stern decrees of fate, Their kingdoms lost, and desolate Their race sublime.
Who is the champion? who the strong? Pontiff and priest, and sceptred throng? On these shall fall As heavily the hand of Death, As when it stays the shepherd's breath Beside his stall.
I speak not of the Trojan name, Neither its glory nor its shame Has met our eyes; Nor of Rome's great and glorious dead, Though we have heard so oft, and read, Their histories.
Little avails it now to know Of ages passed so long ago, Nor how they rolled; Our theme shall be of yesterday, Which to oblivion sweeps away, Like day's of old.
Where is the King, Don Juan? Where Each royal prince and noble heir Of Aragon? Where are the courtly gallantries? The deeds of love and high emprise, In battle done?
Tourney and joust, that charmed the eye, And scarf, and gorgeous panoply, And nodding plume, What were they but a pageant scene? What but the garlands, gay and green, That deck the tomb?
Where are the high-born dames, and where Their gay attire, and jewelled hair, And odors sweet? Where are the gentle knights, that came To kneel, and breathe love's ardent flame, Low at their feet?
Where is the song of Troubadour? Where are the lute and gay tambour They loved of yore? Where is the mazy dance of old, The flowing robes, inwrought with gold, The dancers wore?
And he who next the sceptre swayed, Henry, whose royal court displayed Such power and pride; O, in what winning smiles arrayed, The world its various pleasures laid His throne beside!
But O how false and full of guile That world, which wore so soft a smile But to betray! She, that had been his friend before, Now from the fated monarch tore Her charms away.
The countless gifts, the stately walls, The loyal palaces, and halls All filled with gold; Plate with armorial bearings wrought, Chambers with ample treasures fraught Of wealth untold;
The noble steeds, and harness bright, And gallant lord, and stalwart knight, In rich array, Where shall we seek them now? Alas! Like the bright dewdrops on the grass, They passed away.
His brother, too, whose factious zeal Usurped the sceptre of Castile, Unskilled to reign; What a gay, brilliant court had he, When all the flower of chivalry Was in his train!
But he was mortal; and the breath, That flamed from the hot forge of Death, Blasted his years; Judgment of God! that flame by thee, When raging fierce and fearfully, Was quenched in tears!
Spain's haughty Constable, the true And gallant Master, whom we knew Most loved of all; Breathe not a whisper of his pride, He on the gloomy scaffold died, Ignoble fall!
The countless treasures of his care, His villages and villas fair, His mighty power, What were they all but grief and shame, Tears and a broken heart, when came The parting hour?
His other brothers, proud and high, Masters, who, in prosperity, Might rival kings; Who made the bravest and the best The bondsmen of their high behest, Their underlings;
What was their prosperous estate, When high exalted and elate With power and pride? What, but a transient gleam of light, A flame, which, glaring at its height, Grew dim and died?
So many a duke of royal name, Marquis and count of spotless fame, And baron brave, That might the sword of empire wield, All these, O Death, hast thou concealed In the dark grave!
Their deeds of mercy and of arms, In peaceful days, or war's alarms, When thou dost show. O Death, thy stern and angry face, One stroke of thy all-powerful mace Can overthrow.
Unnumbered hosts, that threaten nigh, Pennon and standard flaunting high, And flag displayed; High battlements intrenched around, Bastion, and moated wall, and mound, And palisade,
And covered trench, secure and deep, All these cannot one victim keep, O Death, from thee, When thou dost battle in thy wrath, And thy strong shafts pursue their path Unerringly.
O World! so few the years we live, Would that the life which thou dost give Were life indeed! Alas! thy sorrows fall so fast, Our happiest hour is when at last The soul is freed.
Our days are covered o'er with grief, And sorrows neither few nor brief Veil all in gloom; Left desolate of real good, Within this cheerless solitude No pleasures bloom.
Thy pilgrimage begins in tears, And ends in bitter doubts and fears, Or dark despair; Midway so many toils appear, That he who lingers longest here Knows most of care.
Thy goods are bought with many a groan, By the hot sweat of toil alone, And weary hearts; Fleet-footed is the approach of woe, But with a lingering step and slow Its form departs.
And he, the good man's shield and shade, To whom all hearts their homage paid, As Virtue's son, Roderic Manrique, he whose name Is written on the scroll of Fame, Spain's champion;
His signal deeds and prowess high Demand no pompous eulogy. Ye saw his deeds! Why should their praise in verse be sung? The name, that dwells on every tongue, No minstrel needs.
To friends a friend; how kind to all The vassals of this ancient hall And feudal fief! To foes how stern a foe was he! And to the valiant and the free How brave a chief!
What prudence with the old and wise: What grace in youthful gayeties; In all how sage! Benignant to the serf and slave, He showed the base and falsely brave A lion's rage.
His was Octavian's prosperous star, The rush of Caesar's conquering car At battle's call; His, Scipio's virtue; his, the skill And the indomitable will Of Hannibal.
His was a Trajan's goodness, his A Titus' noble charities And righteous laws; The arm of Hector, and the might Of Tully, to maintain the right In truth's just cause;
The clemency of Antonine, Aurelius' countenance divine, Firm, gentle, still; The eloquence of Adrian, And Theodosius' love to man, And generous will;
In tented field and bloody fray, An Alexander's vigorous sway And stern command; The faith of Constantine; ay, more, The fervent love Camillus bore His native land.
He left no well-filled treasury, He heaped no pile of riches high, Nor massive plate; He fought the Moors, and, in their fall, City and tower and castled wall Were his estate.
Upon the hard-fought battle-ground, Brave steeds and gallant riders found A common grave; And there the warrior's hand did gain The rents, and the long vassal train, That conquest gave.
And if, of old, his halls displayed The honored and exalted grade His worth had gained, So, in the dark, disastrous hour, Brothers and bondsmen of his power His hand sustained.
After high deeds, not left untold, In the stern warfare, which of old 'T was his to share, Such noble leagues he made, that more And fairer regions, than before, His guerdon were.
These are the records, half effaced, Which, with the hand of youth, he traced On history's page; But with fresh victories he drew Each fading character anew In his old age.
By his unrivalled skill, by great And veteran service to the state, By worth adored, He stood, in his high dignity, The proudest knight of chivalry, Knight of the Sword.
He found his cities and domains Beneath a tyrant's galling chains And cruel power; But by fierce battle and blockade, Soon his own banner was displayed From every tower.
By the tried valor of his hand, His monarch and his native land Were nobly served; Let Portugal repeat the story, And proud Castile, who shared the glory His arms deserved.
And when so oft, for weal or woe, His life upon the fatal throw Had been cast down; When he had served, with patriot zeal, Beneath the banner of Castile, His sovereign's crown;
And done such deeds of valor strong, That neither history nor song Can count them all; Then, on Ocana's castled rock, Death at his portal came to knock, With sudden call,
Saying, "Good Cavalier, prepare To leave this world of toil and care With joyful mien; Let thy strong heart of steel this day Put on its armor for the fray, The closing scene.
"Since thou hast been, in battle-strife, So prodigal of health and life, For earthly fame, Let virtue nerve thy heart again; Loud on the last stern battle-plain They call thy name.
"Think not the struggle that draws near Too terrible for man, nor fear To meet the foe; Nor let thy noble spirit grieve, Its life of glorious fame to leave On earth below.
"A life of honor and of worth Has no eternity on earth, 'T is but a name; And yet its glory far exceeds That base and sensual life, which leads To want and shame.
"The eternal life, beyond the sky, Wealth cannot purchase, nor the high And proud estate; The soul in dalliance laid, the spirit Corrupt with sin, shall not inherit A joy so great.
"But the good monk, in cloistered cell, Shall gain it by his book and bell, His prayers and tears; And the brave knight, whose arm endures Fierce battle, and against the Moors His standard rears.
"And thou, brave knight, whose hand has poured The life-blood of the Pagan horde O'er all the land, In heaven shalt thou receive, at length, The guerdon of thine earthly strength And dauntless hand.
"Cheered onward by this promise sure, Strong in the faith entire and pure Thou dost profess, Depart, thy hope is certainty, The third, the better life on high Shalt thou possess."
"O Death, no more, no more delay; My spirit longs to flee away, And be at rest; The will of Heaven my will shall be, I bow to the divine decree, To God's behest.
"My soul is ready to depart, No thought rebels, the obedient heart Breathes forth no sigh; The wish on earth to linger still Were vain, when 't is God's sovereign will That we shall die.
"O thou, that for our sins didst take A human form, and humbly make Thy home on earth; Thou, that to thy divinity A human nature didst ally By mortal birth,
"And in that form didst suffer here Torment, and agony, and fear, So patiently; By thy redeeming grace alone, And not for merits of my own, O, pardon me!"
As thus the dying warrior prayed, Without one gathering mist or shade Upon his mind; Encircled by his family, Watched by affection's gentle eye So soft and kind;
His soul to Him, who gave it, rose; God lead it to its long repose, Its glorious rest! And, though the warrior's sun has set, Its light shall linger round us yet, Bright, radiant, blest.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
(EL BUEN PASTOR)
BY LOPE DE VEGA
Shepherd! who with thine amorous, sylvan song Hast broken the slumber that encompassed me, Who mad'st thy crook from the accursed tree, On which thy powerful arms were stretched so long! Lead me to mercy's ever-flowing fountains; For thou my shepherd, guard, and guide shalt be; I will obey thy voice, and wait to see Thy feet all beautiful upon the mountains. Hear, Shepherd! thou who for thy flock art dying, O, wash away these scarlet sins, for thou Rejoicest at the contrite sinner's vow. O, wait! to thee my weary soul is crying, Wait for me! Yet why ask it, when I see, With feet nailed to the cross, thou 'rt waiting still for me!
BY LOPE DE VEGA
Lord, what am I, that with unceasing care, Thou didst seek after me, that thou didst wait Wet with unhealthy dews, before my gate, And pass the gloomy nights of winter there? O strange delusion! that I did not greet Thy blest approach, and O, to Heaven how lost, If my ingratitude's unkindly frost Has chilled the bleeding wounds upon thy feet. How oft my guardian angel gently cried, "Soul, from thy casement look, and thou shalt see How he persists to knock and wait for thee!" And, O! how often to that voice of sorrow, "To-morrow we will open," I replied, And when the morrow came I answered still "To-morrow."
THE NATIVE LAND
(EL PATRIO CIELO)
BY FRANCISCO DE ALDANA
Clear fount of light! my native land on high, Bright with a glory that shall never fade! Mansion of truth! without a veil or shade, Thy holy quiet meets the spirit's eye. There dwells the soul in its ethereal essence, Gasping no longer for life's feeble breath; But, sentinelled in heaven, its glorious presence With pitying eye beholds, yet fears not, death. Beloved country! banished from thy shore, A stranger in this prison-house of clay, The exiled spirit weeps and sighs for thee! Heavenward the bright perfections I adore Direct, and the sure promise cheers the way, That, whither love aspires, there shall my dwelling be.
THE IMAGE OF GOD
(LA IMAGEN DE DIOS)
BY FRANCISCO DE ALDANA
O Lord! who seest, from yon starry height, Centred in one the future and the past, Fashioned in thine own image, see how fast The world obscures in me what once was bright! Eternal Sun! the warmth which thou hast given, To cheer life's flowery April, fast decays; Yet in the hoary winter of my days, Forever green shall be my trust in Heaven. Celestial King! O let thy presence pass Before my spirit, and an image fair Shall meet that look of mercy from on high, As the reflected image in a glass Doth meet the look of him who seeks it there, And owes its being to the gazer's eye.
(A UN ARROYUELO)
Laugh of the mountain!—lyre of bird and tree! Pomp of the meadow! mirror of the morn! The soul of April, unto whom are born The rose and jessamine, leaps wild in thee! Although, where'er thy devious current strays, The lap of earth with gold and silver teems, To me thy clear proceeding brighter seems Than golden sands, that charm each shepherd's gaze. How without guile thy bosom, all transparent As the pure crystal, lets the curious eye Thy secrets scan, thy smooth, round pebbles count! How, without malice murmuring, glides thy current! O sweet simplicity of days gone by! Thou shun'st the haunts of man, to dwell in limpid fount!
ANCIENT SPANISH BALLADS.
In the chapter with this title in Outre-Mer, besides Illustrations from Byron and Lockhart are the three following examples, contributed by Mr. Longfellow.
Rio Verde, Rio Verde! Many a corpse is bathed in thee, Both of Moors and eke of Christians, Slain with swords most cruelly.
And thy pure and crystal waters Dappled are with crimson gore; For between the Moors and Christians Long has been the fight and sore.
Dukes and Counts fell bleeding near thee, Lords of high renown were slain, Perished many a brave hidalgo Of the noblemen of Spain.
"King Alfonso the Eighth, having exhausted his treasury in war, wishes to lay a tax of five farthings upon each of the Castillan hidalgos, in order to defray the expenses of a journey from Burgos to Cuenca. This proposition of the king was met with disdain by the noblemen who had been assembled on the occasion."
Don Nuno, Count of Lara, In anger and in pride, Forgot all reverence for the king, And thus in wrath replied:
"Our noble ancestors," quoth he, "Ne'er such a tribute paid; Nor shall the king receive of us What they have once gainsaid.
"The base-born soul who deems it just May here with thee remain; But follow me, ye cavaliers, Ye noblemen of Spain."
Forth followed they the noble Count, They marched to Glera's plain; Out of three thousand gallant knights Did only three remain.
They tied the tribute to their spears, They raised it in the air, And they sent to tell their lord the king That his tax was ready there.
"He may send and take by force," said they, "This paltry sum of gold; But the goodly gift of liberty Cannot be bought and sold."
"One of the finest of the historic ballads is that which describes Bernardo's march to Roncesvalles. He sallies forth 'with three thousand Leonese and more,' to protect the glory and freedom of his native land. From all sides, the peasantry of the land flock to the hero's standard."
The peasant leaves his plough afield, The reaper leaves his hook, And from his hand the shepherd-boy. Lets fall the pastoral crook.
The young set up a shout of joy, The old forget their years, The feeble man grows stout of heart. No more the craven fears.
All rush to Bernard's standard, And on liberty they call; They cannot brook to wear the yoke, When threatened by the Gaul.
"Free were we born," 't is thus they cry "And willingly pay we The duty that we owe our king By the divine decree.
"But God forbid that we obey The laws of foreign knaves, Tarnish the glory of our sires, And make our children slaves.
"Our hearts have not so craven grown, So bloodless all our veins, So vigorless our brawny arms, As to submit to chains.
"Has the audacious Frank, forsooth, Subdued these seas and lands? Shall he a bloodless victory have? No, not while we have hands.
"He shall learn that the gallant Leonese Can bravely fight and fall, But that they know not how to yield; They are Castilians all.
"Was it for this the Roman power Of old was made to yield Unto Numantia's valiant hosts On many a bloody field?
"Shall the bold lions that have bathed Their paws in Libyan gore, Crouch basely to a feebler foe, And dare the strife no more?
"Let the false king sell town and tower, But not his vassals free; For to subdue the free-born soul No royal power hath he!"
VIDA DE SAN MILLAN
BY GONZALO DE BERCEO
And when the kings were in the field,—their squadrons in array,— With lance in rest they onward pressed to mingle in the fray; But soon upon the Christians fell a terror of their foes,— These were a numerous army,—a little handful those.
And while the Christian people stood in this uncertainty, Upward to heaven they turned their eyes, and fixed their thoughts on high; And there two figures they beheld, all beautiful and bright, Even than the pure new-fallen snow their garments were more white.
They rode upon two horses more white than crystal sheen, And arms they bore such as before no mortal man had seen; The one, he held a crosier,—a pontiff's mitre wore; The other held a crucifix,—such man ne'er saw before.
Their faces were angelical, celestial forms had they,— And downward through the fields of air they urged their rapid way; They looked upon the Moorish host with fierce and angry look, And in their hands, with dire portent, their naked sabres shook.
The Christian host, beholding this, straightway take heart again; They fall upon their bended knees, all resting on the plain, And each one with his clenched fist to smite his breast begins, And promises to God on high he will forsake his sins.
And when the heavenly knights drew near unto the battle-ground, They dashed among the Moors and dealt unerring blows around; Such deadly havoc there they made the foremost ranks along, A panic terror spread unto the hindmost of the throng.
Together with these two good knights, the champions of the sky, The Christians rallied and began to smite full sore and high; The Moors raised up their voices and by the Koran swore That in their lives such deadly fray they ne'er had seen before.
Down went the misbelievers,—fast sped the bloody fight,— Some ghastly and dismembered lay, and some half dead with fright: Full sorely they repented that to the field they came, For they saw that from the battle they should retreat with shame.
Another thing befell them,—they dreamed not of such woes,— The very arrows that the Moors shot front their twanging bows Turned back against them in their flight and wounded them full sore, And every blow they dealt the foe was paid in drops of gore.
. . . . . . . . .
Now he that bore the crosier, and the papal crown had on, Was the glorified Apostle, the brother of Saint John; And he that held the crucifix, and wore the monkish hood, Was the holy San Millan of Cogolla's neighborhood.
SAN MIGUEL, THE CONVENT
(SAN MIGUEL DE LA TUMBA)
BY GONZALO DE BERCEO
San Miguel de la Tumba is a convent vast and wide; The sea encircles it around, and groans on every side: It is a wild and dangerous place, and many woes betide The monks who in that burial-place in penitence abide.
Within those dark monastic walls, amid the ocean flood, Of pious, fasting monks there dwelt a holy brotherhood; To the Madonna's glory there an altar high was placed, And a rich and costly image the sacred altar graced.
Exalted high upon a throne, the Virgin Mother smiled, And, as the custom is, she held within her arms the Child; The kings and wise men of the East were kneeling by her side; Attended was she like a queen whom God had sanctified.
. . . . . . . . .
Descending low before her face a screen of feathers hung,— A moscader, or fan for flies, 'tis called in vulgar tongue; From the feathers of the peacock's wing 't was fashioned bright and fair, And glistened like the heaven above when all its stars are there.
It chanced that, for the people's sins, fell the lightning's blasting stroke: Forth from all four the sacred walls the flames consuming broke; The sacred robes were all consumed, missal and holy book; And hardly with their lives the monks their crumbling walls forsook.
. . . . . . . . .
But though the desolating flame raged fearfully and wild, It did not reach the Virgin Queen, it did not reach the Child; It did not reach the feathery screen before her face that shone, Nor injure in a farthing's worth the image or the throne.
The image it did not consume, it did not burn the screen; Even in the value of a hair they were not hurt, I ween; Not even the smoke did reach them, nor injure more the shrine Than the bishop hight Don Tello has been hurt by hand of mine.
. . . . . . . . .
She is a maid of artless grace, Gentle in form, and fair of face,
Tell me, thou ancient mariner, That sailest on the sea, If ship, or sail or evening star Be half so fair as she!
Tell me, thou gallant cavalier, Whose shining arms I see, If steel, or sword, or battle-field Be half so fair as she!
Tell me, thou swain, that guard'st thy flock Beneath the shadowy tree, If flock, or vale, or mountain-ridge Be half so fair as she!
SANTA TERESA'S BOOK-MARK
(LETRILLA QUE LLEVABA POR REGISTRO EN SU BREVIARIO)
BY SANTA TERESA DE AVILA
Let nothing disturb thee, Nothing affright thee; All things are passing; God never changeth; Patient endurance Attaineth to all things; Who God possesseth In nothing is wanting; Alone God sufficeth.
FROM THE CANCIONEROS
EYES SO TRISTFUL, EYES SO TRISTFUL
(OJOS TRISTES, OJOS TRISTES)
BY DIEGO DE SALDANA
Eyes so tristful, eyes so tristful, Heart so full of care and cumber, I was lapped in rest and slumber, Ye have made me wakeful, wistful!
In this life of labor endless Who shall comfort my distresses? Querulous my soul and friendless In its sorrow shuns caresses. Ye have made me, ye have made me Querulous of you, that care not, Eyes so tristful, yet I dare not Say to what ye have betrayed me.
SOME DAY, SOME DAY
BY CRISTOBAL DE GASTILLOJO
Some day, some day O troubled breast, Shalt thou find rest.
If Love in thee To grief give birth, Six feet of earth Can more than he; There calm and free And unoppressed Shalt thou find rest.
The unattained In life at last, When life is passed, Shall all be gained; And no more pained, No more distressed, Shalt thou find rest.
COME, O DEATH, SO SILENT FLYING
(VEN, MUERTE TAN ESCONDIDA)
BY EL COMMENDADOR ESCRIVA
Come, O Death, so silent flying That unheard thy coming be, Lest the sweet delight of dying Bring life back again to me. For thy sure approach perceiving, In my constancy and pain I new life should win again, Thinking that I am not living. So to me, unconscious lying, All unknown thy coming be, Lest the sweet delight of dying Bring life back again to me. Unto him who finds thee hateful, Death, thou art inhuman pain; But to me, who dying gain, Life is but a task ungrateful. Come, then, with my wish complying, All unheard thy coming be, Lest the sweet delight of dying Bring life back again to me.
GLOVE OF BLACK IN WHITE HAND BARE
Glove of black in white hand bare, And about her forehead pale Wound a thin, transparent veil, That doth not conceal her hair; Sovereign attitude and air, Cheek and neck alike displayed With coquettish charms arrayed, Laughing eyes and fugitive;— This is killing men that live, 'T is not mourning for the dead.
FROM THE SWEDISH AND DANISH
PASSAGES FROM FRITHIOF'S SAGA
BY ESAIAS TEGNER
Three miles extended around the fields of the homestead, on three sides Valleys and mountains and hills, but on the fourth side was the ocean. Birch woods crowned the summits, but down the slope of the hillsides Flourished the golden corn, and man-high was waving the rye-field. Lakes, full many in number, their mirror held up for the mountains, Held for the forests up, in whose depths the high-horned reindeers Had their kingly walk, and drank of a hundred brooklets. But in the valleys widely around, there fed on the greensward Herds with shining hides and udders that longed for the milk-pail. 'Mid these scattered, now here and now there, were numberless flocks of Sheep with fleeces white, as thou seest the white-looking stray clouds, Flock-wise spread o'er the heavenly vault when it bloweth in springtime. Coursers two times twelve, all mettlesome, fast fettered storm-winds, Stamping stood in the line of stalls, and tugged at their fodder. Knotted with red were their manes, and their hoofs all white with steel shoes. Th' banquet-hall, a house by itself, was timbered of hard fir. Not five hundred men (at ten times twelve to the hundred) Filled up the roomy hall, when assembled for drinking, at Yule-tide. Through the hall, as long as it was, went a table of holm-oak, Polished and white, as of steel; the columns twain of the High-seat Stood at the end thereof, two gods carved out of an elm-tree: Odin with lordly look, and Frey with the sun on his frontlet. Lately between the two, on a bear-skin (the skin it was coal-black, Scarlet-red was the throat, but the paws were shodden with silver), Thorsten sat with his friends, Hospitality sitting with Gladness. Oft, when the moon through the cloudrack flew, related the old man Wonders from distant lands he had seen, and cruises of Vikings Far away on the Baltic, and Sea of the West and the White Sea. Hushed sat the listening bench, and their glances hung on the graybeard's Lips, as a bee on the rose; but the Scald was thinking of Brage, Where, with his silver beard, and runes on his tongue, he is seated Under the leafy beech, and tells a tradition by Mimer's Ever-murmuring wave, himself a living tradition. Midway the floor (with thatch was it strewn) burned ever the fire-flame Glad on its stone-built hearth; and thorough the wide-mouthed smoke-flue Looked the stars, those heavenly friends, down into the great hall. Round the walls, upon nails of steel, were hanging in order Breastplate and helmet together, and here and there among them Downward lightened a sword, as in winter evening a star shoots. More than helmets and swords the shields in the hall were resplendent, White as the orb of the sun, or white as the moon's disk of silver. Ever and anon went a maid round the hoard, and filled up the drink-horns, Ever she cast down her eyes and blushed; in the shield her reflection Blushed, too, even as she; this gladdened the drinking champions.
A SLEDGE-RIDE ON THE ICE
King Ring with his queen to the banquet did fare, On the lake stood the ice so mirror-clear,
"Fare not o'er the ice," the stranger cries; "It will burst, and full deep the cold bath lies."
"The king drowns not easily," Ring outspake; "He who's afraid may go round the lake."
Threatening and dark looked the stranger round, His steel shoes with haste on his feet he bound,
The sledge-horse starts forth strong and free; He snorteth flames, so glad is he.
"Strike out," screamed the king, "my trotter good, Let us see if thou art of Sleipner's blood."
They go as a storm goes over the lake. No heed to his queen doth the old man take.
But the steel-shod champion standeth not still, He passeth them by as swift as he will.
He carves many runes in the frozen tide, Fair Ingeborg o'er her own name doth glide.
Spring is coming, birds are twittering, forests leaf, and smiles the sun, And the loosened torrents downward, singing, to the ocean run; Glowing like the cheek of Freya, peeping rosebuds 'gin to ope, And in human hearts awaken love of life, and joy, and hope.
Now will hunt the ancient monarch, and the queen shall join the sport: Swarming in its gorgeous splendor, is assembled all the Court; Bows ring loud, and quivers rattle, stallions paw the ground alway, And, with hoods upon their eyelids, scream the falcons for their prey.
See, the Queen of the Chase advances! Frithiof, gaze not at the sight! Like a star upon a spring-cloud sits she on her palfrey white. Half of Freya, half of Rota, yet more beauteous than these two, And from her light hat of purple wave aloft the feathers blue.
Gaze not at her eyes' blue heaven, gaze not at her golden hair! Oh beware! her waist is slender, full her bosom is, beware! Look not at the rose and lily on her cheek that shifting play, List not to the voice beloved, whispering like the wind of May.
Now the huntsman's band is ready. Hurrah! over hill and dale! Horns ring, and the hawks right upward to the hall of Odin sail. All the dwellers in the forest seek in fear their cavern homes, But, with spear outstretched before her, after them the Valkyr comes.
. . . . . . . . . .
Then threw Frithiof down his mantle, and upon the greensward spread, And the ancient king so trustful laid on Frithiof's knee his head, Slept as calmly as the hero sleepeth, after war's alarm, On his shield, or as an infant sleeps upon its mother's arm.
As he slumbers, hark! there sings a coal-black bird upon the bough; "Hasten, Frithiof, slay the old man, end your quarrel at a blow: Take his queen, for she is thine, and once the bridal kiss she gave, Now no human eye beholds thee, deep and silent is the grave,"
Frithiof listens; hark! there sings a snow-white bird upon the bough: "Though no human eye beholds thee, Odin's eye beholds thee now. Coward! wilt thou murder sleep, and a defenceless old man slay! Whatsoe'er thou winn'st, thou canst not win a hero's fame this way."
Thus the two wood-birds did warble: Frithiof took his war-sword good, With a shudder hurled it from him, far into the gloomy wood. Coal-black bird flies down to Nastrand, but on light, unfolded wings, Like the tone of harps, the other, sounding towards the sun, upsprings.
Straight the ancient king awakens. "Sweet has been my sleep," he said; "Pleasantly sleeps one in the shadow, guarded by a brave man's blade. But where is thy sword, O stranger? Lightning's brother, where is he? Who thus parts you, who should never from each other parted be?"
"It avails not," Frithiof answered; "in the North are other swords: Sharp, O monarch! is the sword's tongue, and it speaks not peaceful words; Murky spirits dwell in steel blades, spirits from the Niffelhem; Slumber is not safe before them, silver locks but anger them."
No more shall I see In its upward motion The smoke of the Northland. Man is a slave: The fates decree. On the waste of the ocean There is my fatherland, there is my grave.
Go not to the strand, Ring, with thy bride, After the stars spread their light through the sky. Perhaps in the sand, Washed up by the tide, The bones of the outlawed Viking may lie.
Then, quoth the king, "'T is mournful to hear A man like a whimpering maiden cry. The death-song they sing Even now in mine ear, What avails it? He who is born must die."
THE CHILDREN OF THE LORD'S SUPPER
BY ESAIAS TEGNER
Pentecost, day of rejoicing, had come. The church of the village Gleaming stood in the morning's sheen. On the spire of the bell Decked with a brazen cock, the friendly flames of the Spring-sun Glanced like the tongues of fire, beheld by Apostles aforetime. Clear was the heaven and blue, and May, with her cap crowned with roses, Stood in her holiday dress in the fields, and the wind and the brooklet Murmured gladness and peace, God's-peace! with lips rosy-tinted Whispered the race of the flowers, and merry on balancing branches Birds were singing their carol, a jubilant hymn to the Highest. Swept and clean was the churchyard. Adorned like a leaf-woven arbor Stood its old-fashioned gate; and within upon each cross of iron Hung was a fragrant garland, new twined by the hands of affection. Even the dial, that stood on a mound among the departed, (There full a hundred years had it stood,) was embellished with blossoms Like to the patriarch hoary, the sage of his kith and the hamlet, Who on his birthday is crowned by children and children's children, So stood the ancient prophet, and mute with his pencil of iron Marked on the tablet of stone, and measured the time and its changes, While all around at his feet, an eternity slumbered in quiet. Also the church within was adorned, for this was the season When the young, their parents' hope, and the loved-ones of heaven, Should at the foot of the altar renew the vows of their baptism. Therefore each nook and corner was swept and cleaned, and the dust was Blown from the walls and ceiling, and from the oil-painted benches. There stood the church like a garden; the Feast of the Leafy Pavilions Saw we in living presentment. From noble arms on the church wall Grew forth a cluster of leaves, and the preacher's pulpit of oak-wood Budded once more anew, as aforetime the rod before Aaron. Wreathed thereon was the Bible with leaves, and the dove, washed with silver Under its canopy fastened, had on it a necklace of wind-flowers. But in front of the choir, round the altar-piece painted by Horberg, Crept a garland gigantic; and bright-curling tresses of angels Peeped, like the sun from a cloud, from out of the shadowy leaf-work. Likewise the lustre of brass, new-polished, blinked from the ceiling, And for lights there were lilies of Pentecost set in the sockets.
Loud rang the bells already; the thronging crowd was assembled Far from valleys and hills, to list to the holy preaching. Hark! then roll forth at once the mighty tones of the organ, Hover like voices from God, aloft like invisible spirits. Like as Elias in heaven, when he cast from off him his mantle, So cast off the soul its garments of earth; and with one voice Chimed in the congregation, and sang an anthem immortal Of the sublime Wallin, of David's harp in the North-land Tuned to the choral of Luther; the song on its mighty pinions Took every living soul, and lifted it gently to heaven, And each face did shine like the Holy One's face upon Tabor. Lo! there entered then into the church the Reverend Teacher. Father he hight and he was in the parish; a Christianly plainness Clothed from his head to his feet the old man of seventy winters. Friendly was he to behold, and glad as the heralding angel Walked he among the crowds, but still a contemplative grandeur Lay on his forehead as clear as on moss-covered gravestone a sunbeam. As in his inspiration (an evening twilight that faintly Gleams in the human soul, even now, from the day of creation) Th' Artist, the friend of heaven, imagines Saint John when in Patmos, Gray, with his eyes uplifted to heaven, so seemed then the old man: Such was the glance of his eye, and such were his tresses of silver. All the congregation arose in the pews that were numbered. But with a cordial look, to the right and the left hand, the old man Nodding all hail and peace, disappeared in the innermost chancel.
Simply and solemnly now proceeded the Christian service, Singing and prayer, and at last an ardent discourse from the old man. Many a moving word and warning, that out of the heart came, Fell like the dew of the morning, like manna on those in the desert. Then, when all was finished, the Teacher re-entered the chancel Followed therein by the young. The boys on the right had their places, Delicate figures, with close-curling hair and cheeks rosy-blooming. But on the left of these there stood the tremulous lilies, Tinged with the blushing light of the dawn, the diffident maidens,— Folding their hands in prayer, and their eyes cast down on the pavement Now came, with question and answer, the catechism. In the beginning Answered the children with troubled and faltering voice, but the old man's Glances of kindness encouraged them soon, and the doctrines eternal Flowed, like the waters of fountains, so clear from lips unpolluted. Each time the answer was closed, and as oft as they named the Redeemer, Lowly louted the boys, and lowly the maidens all courtesied. Friendly the Teacher stood, like an angel of light there among them. And to the children explained the holy, the highest, in few words, Thorough, yet simple and clear, for sublimity always is simple, Both in sermon and song, a child can seize on its meaning. E'en as the green-growing bud unfolds when Springtide approaches. Leaf by leaf puts forth, and warmed, by the radiant sunshine, Blushes with purple and gold, till at last the perfected blossom Opens its odorous chalice, and rocks with its crown in the breezes, So was unfolded here the Christian lore of salvation, Line by line from the soul of childhood. The fathers and mothers Stood behind them in tears, and were glad at the well-worded answer.
Now went the old man up to the altar;—and straightway transfigured (So did it seem unto me) was then the affectionate Teacher. Like the Lord's Prophet sublime, and awful as Death and as Judgment Stood he, the God-commissioned, the soul-searcher, earthward descending Glances, sharp as a sword, into hearts that to him were transparent Shot he; his voice was deep, was low like the thunder afar off. So on a sudden transfigured he stood there, lie spake and he questioned.
"This is the faith of the Fathers, the faith the Apostles delivered, This is moreover the faith whereunto I baptized you, while still ye Lay on your mothers' breasts, and nearer the portals of heaven, Slumbering received you then the Holy Church in its bosom; Wakened from sleep are ye now, and the light in its radiant splendor Downward rains from the heaven;—to-day on the threshold of childhood Kindly she frees you again, to examine and make your election, For she knows naught of compulsion, and only conviction desireth. This is the hour of your trial, the turning-point of existence, Seed for the coming days; without revocation departeth Now from your lips the confession; Bethink ye, before ye make answer! Think not, O think not with guile to deceive the questioning Teacher. Sharp is his eye to-day, and a curse ever rests upon falsehood. Enter not with a lie on Life's journey; the multitude hears you, Brothers and sisters and parents, what dear upon earth is and holy Standeth before your sight as a witness; the Judge everlasting Looks from the sun down upon you, and angels in waiting beside him Grave your confession in letters of fire upon tablets eternal. Thus, then,—believe ye in God, in the Father who this world created? Him who redeemed it, the Son, and the Spirit where both are united? Will ye promise me here, (a holy promise!) to cherish God more than all things earthly, and every man as a brother? Will ye promise me here, to confirm your faith by your living, Th' heavenly faith of affection! to hope, to forgive, and to suffer, Be what it may your condition, and walk before God in uprightness? Will ye promise me this before God and man?"—With a clear voice Answered the young men Yes! and Yes! with lips softly-breathing Answered the maidens eke. Then dissolved from the brow of the Teacher Clouds with the lightnings therein, and lie spake in accents more gentle, Soft as the evening's breath, as harps by Babylon's rivers.
"Hail, then, hail to you all! To the heirdom of heaven be ye welcome! Children no more from this day, but by covenant brothers and sisters! Yet,—for what reason not children? Of such is the kingdom of heaven. Here upon earth an assemblage of children, in heaven one Father, Ruling them all as his household,—forgiving in turn and chastising, That is of human life a picture, as Scripture has taught us. Blest are the pure before God! Upon purity and upon virtue Resteth the Christian Faith: she herself from on high is descended. Strong as a man and pure as a child, is the sum of the doctrine, Which the Divine One taught, and suffered and died on the cross for Oh, as ye wander this day from childhood's sacred asylum Downward and ever downward, and deeper in Age's chill valley, Oh, how soon will ye come,—too soon!—and long to turn backward Up to its hill-tops again, to the sun-illumined, where Judgment Stood like a father before you, and Pardon, clad like a mother, Gave you her hand to kiss, and the loving heart was for given Life was a play and your hands grasped after the roses of heaven! Seventy years have I lived already; the Father eternal Gave rue gladness and care; but the loveliest hours of existence, When I have steadfastly gazed in their eyes, I have instantly known them, Known them all again;—the were my childhood's acquaintance. Therefore take from henceforth, as guides in the paths of existence, Prayer, with her eyes raised to heaven, and Innocence, bride of man's childhood Innocence, child beloved, is a guest from the world of the blessed, Beautiful, and in her hand a lily; on life's roaring billows Swings she in safety, she heedeth them not in the ship she is sleeping. Calmly she gazes around in the turmoil of men; in the desert Angels descend and minister unto her; she herself knoweth Naught of her glorious attendance; but follows faithful and humble, Follows so long as she may her friend; oh do not reject her, For she cometh from God and she holdeth the keys of the heavens. Prayer is Innocence' friend; and willingly flieth incessant 'Twixt the earth and the sky, the carrier-pigeon of heaven, Son of Eternity, fettered in Time, and an exile, the Spirit Tugs at his chains evermore, and struggles like flame ever upward. Still he recalls with emotion his Father's manifold mansions, Thinks of the land of his fathers, where blossomed more freshly the flowerets, Shone a more beautiful sun, and he played with the winged angels. Then grows the earth too narrow, too close; and homesick for heaven Longs the wanderer again; and the Spirit's longings are worship; Worship is called his most beautiful hour, and its tongue is entreaty. Aid when the infinite burden of life descendeth upon us, Crushes to earth our hope, and, under the earth, in the graveyard, Then it is good to pray unto God; for his sorrowiug children Turns he ne'er from his door, but he heals and helps and consoles them, Yet is it better to pray when all things are prosperous with us, Pray in fortunate days, for life's most beautiful Fortune Kneels before the Eternal's throne; and with hands interfolded, Praises thankful and moved the only giver of blessings. Or do ye know, ye children, one blessing that comes not from Heaven? What has mankind forsooth, the poor! that it has not received? Therefore, fall in the dust and pray! The seraphs adoring Cover with pinions six their face in the glory of him who Hung his masonry pendent on naught, when the world be created. Earth declareth his might, and the firmament utters his glory. Races blossom and die, and stars fall downward from heaven, Downward like withered leaves; at the last stroke of midnight, millenniums Lay themselves down at his feet, and he sees them, but counts them as nothing Who shall stand in his presence? The wrath of the judge is terrific, Casting the insolent down at a glance. When he speaks in his anger Hillocks skip like the kid, and mountains leap like the roebuck. Yet,—why are ye afraid, ye children? This awful avenger, Ah! is a merciful God! God's voice was not in the earthquake, Not in the fire, nor the storm, but it was in the whispering breezes. Love is the root of creation; God's essence; worlds without number Lie in his bosom like children; he made them for this purpose only. Only to love and to be loved again, he breathed forth his spirit Into the slumbering dust, and upright standing, it laid its Hand on its heart, and felt it was warm with a flame out of heaven. Quench, oh quench not that flame! It is the breath of your being. Love is life, but hatred is death. Not father, nor mother Loved you, as God has loved you; for 't was that you may be happy Gave he his only Son. When he bowed down his head in the death-hour Solemnized Love its triumph; the sacrifice then was completed. Lo! then was rent on a sudden the veil of the temple, dividing Earth and heaven apart, and the dead from their sepulchres rising Whispered with pallid lips and low in the ears of each other Th' answer, but dreamed of before, to creation's enigma,—Atonement! Depths of Love are Atonement's depths, for Love is Atonement. Therefore, child of mortality, love thou the merciful Father; Wish what the Holy One wishes, and not from fear, but affection Fear is the virtue of slaves; but the heart that loveth is willing Perfect was before God, and perfect is Love, and Love only. Lovest thou God as thou oughtest, then lovest thou likewise thy brethren: One is the sun in heaven, and one, only one, is Love also. Bears not each human figure the godlike stamp on his forehead Readest thou not in his face thou origin? Is he not sailing Lost like thyself on an ocean unknown, and is he not guided By the same stars that guide thee? Why shouldst thou hate then thy brother? Hateth he thee, forgive! For 't is sweet to stammer one letter Of the Eternal's language;—on earth it is called Forgiveness! Knowest thou Him, who forgave, with the crown of thorns on his temples? Earnestly prayed for his foes, for his murderers? Say, dost thou know him? Ah! thou confessest his name, so follow likewise his example, Think of thy brother no ill, but throw a veil over his failings, Guide the erring aright; for the good, the heavenly shepherd Took the lost lamb in his arms, and bore it back to its mother. This is the fruit of Love, and it is by its fruits that we know it. Love is the creature's welfare, with God; but Love among mortals Is but an endless sigh! He longs, and endures, and stands waiting, Suffers and yet rejoices, and smiles with tears on his eyelids. Hope,—so is called upon earth, his recompense, Hope, the befriending, Does what she can, for she points evermore up to heaven, and faithful Plunges her anchor's peak in the depths of the grave, and beneath it Paints a more beautiful world, a dim, but a sweet play of shadows! Races, better than we, have leaned on her wavering promise, Having naught else but Hope. Then praise we our Father in heaven, Him, who has given us more; for to us has Hope been transfigured, Groping no longer in night; she is Faith, she is living assurance. Faith is enlightened Hope; she is light, is the eye of affection, Dreams of the longing interprets, and carves their visions in marble. Faith is the sun of life; and her countenance shines like the Hebrew's, For she has looked upon God; the heaven on its stable foundation Draws she with chains down to earth, and the New Jerusalem sinketh Splendid with portals twelve in golden vapors descending. There enraptured she wanders. and looks at the figures majestic, Fears not the winged crowd, in the midst of them all is her homestead. Therefore love and believe; for works will follow spontaneous Even as day does the sun; the Right from the Good is an offspring, Love in a bodily shape; and Christian works are no more than Animate Love and faith, as flowers are the animate Springtide. Works do follow us all unto God; there stand and bear witness Not what they seemed,—but what they were only. Blessed is he who Hears their confession secure; they are mute upon earth until death's hand Opens the mouth of the silent. Ye children, does Death e'er alarm you? Death is the brother of Love, twin-brother is he, and is only More austere to behold. With a kiss upon lips that are fading Takes he the soul and departs, and, rocked in the arms of affection, Places the ransomed child, new born, 'fore the face of its father. Sounds of his coming already I hear,—see dimly his pinions, Swart as the night, but with stars strewn upon them! I fear not before him. Death is only release, and in mercy is mute. On his bosom Freer breathes, in its coolness, my breast; and face to face standing Look I on God as he is, a sun unpolluted by vapors; Look on the light of the ages I loved, the spirits majestic, Nobler, better than I; they stand by the throne all transfigured, Vested in white, and with harps of gold, and are singing an anthem, Writ in the climate of heaven, in the language spoken by angels. You, in like manner, ye children beloved, he one day shall gather, Never forgets he the weary;—then welcome, ye loved ones, hereafter! Meanwhile forget not the keeping of vows, forget not the promise, Wander from holiness onward to holiness; earth shall ye heed not Earth is but dust and heaven is light; I have pledged you to heaven. God of the universe, hear me! thou fountain of Love everlasting, Hark to the voice of thy servant! I send up my prayer to thy heaven! Let me hereafter not miss at thy throne one spirit of all these, Whom thou hast given me here! I have loved them all like a father. May they bear witness for me, that I taught them the way of salvation, Faithful, so far as I knew, of thy word; again may they know me, Fall on their Teacher's breast, and before thy face may I place them, Pure as they now are, but only more tried, and exclaiming with gladness, Father, lo! I am here, and the children, whom thou hast given me!"
Weeping he spake in these words; and now at the beck of the old man Knee against knee they knitted a wreath round the altar's enclosure. Kneeling he read then the prayers of the consecration, and softly With him the children read; at the close, with tremulous accents, Asked he the peace of Heaven, a benediction upon them. Now should have ended his task for the day; the following Sunday Was for the young appointed to eat of the Lord's holy Supper. Sudden, as struck from the clouds, stood the Teacher silent and laid his Hand on his forehead, and cast his looks upward; while thoughts high and holy, Flew through the midst of his soul, and his eyes glanced with wonderful brightness. "On the next Sunday, who knows! perhaps I shall rest in the graveyard! Some one perhaps of yourselves, a lily broken untimely, Bow down his head to the earth; why delay I? the hour is accomplished, Warm is the heart;—I will! for to-day grows the harvest of heaven. What I began accomplish I now; what failing therein is I, the old man, will answer to God and the reverend father. Say to me only, ye children, ye denizens new-come in heaven, Are ye ready this day to eat of the bread of Atonement? What it denoteth, that know ye full well, I have told it you often. Of the new covenant symbol it is, of Atonement a token, Stablished between earth and heaven. Man by his sins and transgressions Far has wandered from God, from his essence. 'T was in the beginning Fast by the Tree of Knowledge he fell, and it hangs its crown o'er the Fall to this day; in the Thought is the Fall; in the Heart the Atonement. Infinite is the fall,—the Atonement infinite likewise. See! behind me, as far as the old man remembers, and forward, Far as Hope in her flight can reach with her wearied pinions, Sin and Atonement incessant go through the lifetime of mortals. Sin is brought forth full-grown; but Atonement sleeps in our bosoms Still as the cradled babe; and dreams of heaven and of angels, Cannot awake to sensation; is like the tones in the harp's strings, Spirits imprisoned, that wait evermore the deliverer's finger. Therefore, ye children beloved, descended the Prince of Atonement, Woke the slumberer from sleep, and she stands now with eyes all resplendent. Bright as the vault of the sky, and battles with Sin and o'ercomes her. Downward to earth he came and, transfigured, thence reascended, Not from the heart in like wise, for there he still lives in the Spirit, Loves and atones evermore. So long as Time is, is Atonement. Therefore with reverence take this day her visible token. Tokens are dead if the things live not. The light everlasting Unto the blind is not, but is born of the eye that has vision. Neither in bread nor in wine, but in the heart that is hallowed Lieth forgiveness enshrined; the intention alone of amendment Fruits of the earth ennobles to heavenly things, and removes all Sin and the guerdon of sin. Only Love with his arms wide extended, Penitence wee ping and praying; the Will that is tried, and whose gold flows Purified forth from the flames; in a word, mankind by Atonement Breaketh Atonement's bread, and drinketh Atonement's wine-cup. But he who cometh up hither, unworthy, with hate in his bosom, Scoffing at men and at God, is guilty of Christ's blessed body, And the Redeemer's blood! To himself he eateth and drinketh Death and doom! And from this, preserve us, thou heavenly Father! Are ye ready, ye children, to eat of the bread of Atonement?" Thus with emotion he asked, and together answered the children, "Yes!" with deep sobs interrupted. Then read he the due supplications, Read the Form of Communion, and in chimed the organ and anthem: "O Holy Lamb of God, who takest away our transgressions, Hear us! give us thy peace! have mercy, have mercy upon us!" Th' old man, with trembling hand, and heavenly pearls on his eyelids, Filled now the chalice and paten, and dealt round the mystical symbols. Oh, then seemed it to me as if God, with the broad eye of midday, Clearer looked in at the windows, and all the trees in the church yard Bowed down their summits of green, and the grass on the graves 'gan to shiver But in the children (I noted it well; I knew it) there ran a Tremor of holy rapture along through their ice-cold members. Decked like an altar before them, there stood the green earth, and above it Heaven opened itself, as of old before Stephen; they saw there Radiant in glory the Father, and on his right hand the Redeemer. Under them hear they the clang of harpstrings, and angels from gold clouds Beckon to them like brothers, and fan with their pinions of purple.
Closed was the Teacher's task, and with heaven in their hearts and their faces, Up rose the children all, and each bowed him, weeping full sorely, Downward to kiss that reverend hand, but all of them pressed he Moved to his bosom, and laid, with a prayer, his hands full of blessings, Now on the holy breast, and now on the innocent tresses.
A NATIONAL SONG OF DENMARK
King Christian stood by the lofty mast In mist and smoke; His sword was hammering so fast, Through Gothic helm and brain it passed; Then sank each hostile hulk and mast, In mist and smoke. "Fly!" shouted they, "fly, he who can! Who braves of Denmark's Christian The stroke?"
Nils Juel gave heed to the tempest's roar, Now is the hour! He hoisted his blood-red flag once more, And smote upon the foe full sore, And shouted Loud, through the tempest's roar, "Now is the hour!" "Fly!" shouted they, "for shelter fly! Of Denmark's Juel who can defy The power?"
North Sea! a glimpse of Wessel rent Thy murky sky! Then champions to thine arms were sent; Terror and Death glared where he went; From the waves was heard a wail, that rent Thy murky sky! From Denmark, thunders Tordenskiol', Let each to Heaven commend his soul, And fly!
Path of the Dane to fame and might! Dark-rolling wave! Receive thy friend, who, scorning flight Goes to meet danger with despite, Proudly as thou the tempest's might Dark-rolling wave! And amid pleasures and alarm; And war and victory, be thine arms My grave!
THE ELECTED KNIGHT
Sir Oluf he rideth over the plain, Full seven miles broad and seven miles wide, But never, ah never can meet with the man A tilt with him dare ride.
He saw under the hillside A Knight full well equipped; His steed was black, his helm was barred; He was riding at full speed.
He wore upon his spurs Twelve little golden birds; Anon he spurred his steed with a clang, And there sat all the birds and sang.
He wore upon his mail Twelve little golden wheels; Anon in eddies the wild wind blew, And round and round the wheels they flew.
He wore before his breast A lance that was poised in rest; And it was sharper than diamond-stone, It made Sir Oluf's heart to groan.
He wore upon his helm A wreath of ruddy gold; And that gave him the Maidens Three, The youngest was fair to behold.
Sir Oluf questioned the Knight eftsoon If he were come from heaven down; "Art thou Christ of Heaven," quoth he, "So will I yield me unto thee."
"I am not Christ the Great, Thou shalt not yield thee yet; I am an Unknown Knight, Three modest Maidens have me bedight."
"Art thou a Knight elected, And have three Maidens thee bedight So shalt thou ride a tilt this day, For all the Maidens' honor!"
The first tilt they together rode They put their steeds to the test, The second tilt they together rode, They proved their manhood best.
The third tilt they together rode, Neither of them would yield; The fourth tilt they together rode, They both fell on the field.
Now lie the lords upon the plain, And their blood runs unto death; Now sit the Maidens in the high tower, The youngest sorrows till death.
BY JENS IMMANUEL BAGGESEN
There was a time when I was very small, When my whole frame was but an ell in height; Sweetly, as I recall it, tears do fall, And therefore I recall it with delight.
I sported in my tender mother's arms, And rode a-horseback on best father's knee; Alike were sorrows, passions and alarms, And gold, and Greek, and love, unknown to me,
Then seemed to me this world far less in size, Likewise it seemed to me less wicked far; Like points in heaven, I saw the stars arise, And longed for wings that I might catch a star.
I saw the moon behind the island fade, And thought, "Oh, were I on that island there, I could find out of what the moon is made, Find out how large it is, how round, how fair!"
Wondering, I saw God's sun, through western skies, Sink in the ocean's golden lap at night, And yet upon the morrow early rise, And paint the eastern heaven with crimson light;
And thought of God, the gracious Heavenly Father, Who made me, and that lovely sun on high, And all those pearls of heaven thick-strung together, Dropped, clustering, from his hand o'er all the sky.
With childish reverence, my young lips did say The prayer my pious mother taught to me: "O gentle God! oh, let me strive alway Still to be wise, and good, and follow Thee!"
So prayed I for my father and my mother, And for my sister, and for all the town; The king I knew not, and the beggar-brother, Who, bent with age, went, sighing, up and down.
They perished, the blithe days of boyhood perished, And all the gladness, all the peace I knew! Now have I but their memory, fondly cherished;— God! may I never lose that too!
FROM THE GERMAN
THE HAPPIEST LAND
There sat one day in quiet, By an alehouse on the Rhine, Four hale and hearty fellows, And drank the precious wine.
The landlord's daughter filled their cups, Around the rustic board Then sat they all so calm and still, And spake not one rude word.
But, when the maid departed, A Swabian raised his hand, And cried, all hot and flushed with wine, "Long live the Swabian land!
"The greatest kingdom upon earth Cannot with that compare With all the stout and hardy men And the nut-brown maidens there.
"Ha!" cried a Saxon, laughing, And dashed his heard with wine; "I had rather live in Laplaud, Than that Swabian land of thine!
"The goodliest land on all this earth, It is the Saxon land There have I as many maidens As fingers on this hand!"
"Hold your tongues! both Swabian and Saxon!" A bold Bohemian cries; "If there's a heaven upon this earth, In Bohemia it lies.
"There the tailor blows the flute, And the cobbler blows the horn, And the miner blows the bugle, Over mountain gorge and bourn." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . And then the landlord's daughter Up to heaven raised her hand, And said, "Ye may no more contend,— There lies the happiest land!"
BY CHRISTOPH AUGUST TIEDGE
"Whither, thou turbid wave? Whither, with so much haste, As if a thief wert thou?"
"I am the Wave of Life, Stained with my margin's dust; From the struggle and the strife Of the narrow stream I fly To the Sea's immensity, To wash from me the slime Of the muddy banks of Time."
BY ERNST STOCKMANN
How they so softly rest, All they the holy ones, Unto whose dwelling-place Now doth my soul draw near! How they so softly rest, All in their silent graves, Deep to corruption Slowly don-sinking!
And they no longer weep, Here, where complaint is still! And they no longer feel, Here, where all gladness flies! And, by the cypresses Softly o'ershadowed Until the Angel Calls them, they slumber!
THE BIRD AND THE SHIP
BY WILHELM MULLER
"The rivers rush into the sea, By castle and town they go; The winds behind them merrily Their noisy trumpets blow.
"The clouds are passing far and high, We little birds in them play; And everything, that can sing and fly, Goes with us, and far away.
"I greet thee, bonny boat! Whither, or whence, With thy fluttering golden band?"— "I greet thee, little bird! To the wide sea I haste from the narrow land.
"Full and swollen is every sail; I see no longer a hill, I have trusted all to the sounding gale, And it will not let me stand still.
"And wilt thou, little bird, go with us? Thou mayest stand on the mainmast tall, For full to sinking is my house With merry companions all."—
"I need not and seek not company, Bonny boat, I can sing all alone; For the mainmast tall too heavy am I, Bonny boat, I have wings of my own.
"High over the sails, high over the mast, Who shall gainsay these joys? When thy merry companions are still, at last, Thou shalt hear the sound of my voice.
"Who neither may rest, nor listen may, God bless them every one! I dart away, in the bright blue day, And the golden fields of the sun.
"Thus do I sing my merry song, Wherever the four winds blow; And this same song, my whole life long, Neither Poet nor Printer may know.'
BY WILHELM MULLER
I heard a brooklet gushing From its rocky fountain near, Down into the valley rushing, So fresh and wondrous clear.
I know not what came o'er me, Nor who the counsel gave; But I must hasten downward, All with my pilgrim-stave;
Downward, and ever farther, And ever the brook beside; And ever fresher murmured, And ever clearer, the tide.
Is this the way I was going? Whither, O brooklet, say I Thou hast, with thy soft murmur, Murmured my senses away.
What do I say of a murmur? That can no murmur be; 'T is the water-nymphs, that are singing Their roundelays under me.
Let them sing, my friend, let them murmur, And wander merrily near; The wheels of a mill are going In every brooklet clear.
(HUT DU DICH!)
I know a maiden fair to see, Take care! She can both false and friendly be, Beware! Beware! Trust her not, She is fooling thee!
She has two eyes, so soft and brown, Take care! She gives a side-glance and looks down, Beware! Beware! Trust her not, She is fooling thee!
And she has hair of a golden hue, Take care! And what she says, it is not true, Beware! Beware! Trust her not, She is fooling thee!
She has a bosom as white as snow, Take care! She knows how much it is best to show, Beware! Beware! Trust her not, She is fooling thee!
She gives thee a garland woven fair, Take care! It is a fool's-cap for thee to wear, Beware! Beware! Trust her not, She is fooling thee!
SONG OF THE BELL
Bell! thou soundest merrily, When the bridal party To the church doth hie! Bell! thou soundest solemnly. When, on Sabbath morning, Fields deserted lie!
Bell! thou soundest merrily; Tellest thou at evening, Bed-time draweth nigh! Bell! thou soundest mournfully. Tellest thou the bitter Parting hath gone by!