« PreviousContinue »
This is the place. Stand still, my steed,
Let me review the scene,
And summon from the shadowy Past
The forms that once have been.
The Past and Present here unite
Beneath Time's flowing tide, Like footprints hidden by a brook,
But seen on either side.
Here runs the highway to the town;
There the green lane descends, Through which I walked to church with thee,
O gentlest of my friends!
The shadow of the linden-trees
Lay moving on the grass ;
Between them and the moving boughs,
A shadow, thou didst pass.
Thy dress was like the lilies,
Ånd thy heart as pure as they: One of God's holy niessengers
Did walk with me that day.
I saw the branches of the trees
Bend down thy touch to meet, The clover-blossoms in the grass
Rise up to kiss thy feet.
Sleep, sleep to-day, tormenting cares,
Of earth and folly born!". Solemnly sang the village choir
On that sweet Sabbath morn.
Through the closed blinds the golden sun
Poured in a dusty beam,
Like the celestial ladder seen
By Jacob in his dream.
And ever and anon, the wind,
Sweet-scented with the hay,
Turned o'er the hymn-book's futtering leaves
That on the window lay.
Long was the good man's sermon,
Yet it seemed not so to me;
For he spake of Ruth the beautiful,
And still I thought of thee.
Long was the prayer he uttered,
Yet it seemed not so to me;
For in my heart I prayed with him,
And still I thought of thee.
alas! the place seems changed;
Thou art no longer here:
Part of the sunshine of the scene
With thee did disappear.
Though thoughts, deep-rooted in my heart,
Like pine-trees dark and high,
Subdue the light of noon, and breathe
A low and ceaseless sigh;
This memory brightens o'er the past,
As when the sun, concealed
Behind some cloud that near us hangs,
Shines on a distant field.
THE ARSENAL AT SPRINGFIELD. This is the Arsenal. From floor to ceiling,
Like a huge organ, rise the burnished arms ;
But from their silent pipes no anthem pealing
Startles the villages with strange alarms.
Ah! what a sound will rise, how wild and dreary,
When the death-angel touches those swift keys!
What loud lament and dismal Miserere
Will mingle with their awful symphonies ! I hear even now the infinite fierce chorus,
The cries of agony, the endless groan,
Which, through the ages that have gone before us,
In long reverberations reach our own.
On helm and harness rings the Saxon hammer,
Through Cimbric forest roars the Norseman's song, And loud, amid the universal clamour,
O’er distant deserts sounds the Tartar gong. I hear the Florentine, who from his palace
Wheels out his battle-bell with dreadful din, And Aztec priests upon their teocallis
Beat the wild war-drums made of serpent's skin; The tumult of each sacked and burning village ;
The shout that every prayer for mercy drowns; The soldiers' revels in the midst of pillage;
The wail of famine in beleaguered towns ;
The bursting shell, the gateway wrenched asunder,
The rattling musketry, the clashing blade;
And ever and anon, in tones of thunder,
The diapason of the cannonade.
Is it, О man, with such discordant noises,
With such accursèd instruments as these,
Thou drownest Nature's sweet and kindly voices,
And jarrest the celestial harmonies ?
Were half the power that fills the world with terror,
Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,
Given to redeem the human mind from error,
There were no need of arsenals nor forts:
The warrior's name would be a name abhorred!
And every nation, that should lift again
Its hand against a brother, on its forehead
Would wear for evermore the curse of Cain!
Down the dark future, through long generations,
The echoing sounds grow fainter, and then cease;
And like a bell, with solemn, sweet vibrations,
I hear once more the voice of Christ say “Peace!"
Peace! and no longer from its brazen portals
The blast of War’s great organ shakes the skies !
But beautiful as songs of the immortals,
The holy melodies of love arise.
In the valley of the Pegnitz, where across broad meadow-lands
Rise the blue Franconian mountains, Nuremberg the ancient stands.
Quaint old town of toil and traffic, quaint old town of art and song,
Memories haunt thy pointed gables, like the rooks that round them
Memories of the Middle Ages, when the emperors, rough and bold,
Had their dwelling in thy castle, time-defying, centuries old;
And thy brave and thrifty burghers boasted, in their uncouth rhyme,
That their great imperial city stretched its hand through every clime. 13
In the court-yard of the castle, bound with many an iron band,
Stands the mighty linden planted by Queen Cunigunde's hand;
On the square the oriel window, where in old heroic days
Sat the poet Melchior singing Kaiser Maximilian's praise. 14
Every where I see around me rise the wondrous world of Art:
Fountains wrought with richest sculpture standing in the common
And above cathedral doorways saints and bishops carved in stone,
By a former age commissioned as apostles to our own.
In the church of sainted Sebald sleeps enshrined his holy dust, 15
And in bronze the Twelve Apostles guard from age to age their trust;
In the church of sainted Lawrence stands a pix of sculpture rare,
Like the foamy sheaf of fountains, rising through the painted air.
Here, when Art was still religion, with a simple, reverent heart,
Lived and laboured Albrecht Dürer, the Evangelist of Art;
Hence in silence and in sorrow, toiling still with busy hand,
Like an emigrant he wandered, seeking for the Better Land.
Emigravit is the inscription on the tomb-stone where he lies ;
Dead he is not,-but departed,-for the artist never dies.
Fairer seems the ancient city, and the sunshine seems more fair,
That he once has trod its pavement, that he once has breathed its air!
Through these streets so broad and stately, these obscure and dismal
Walked of yore the Master-singers, chanting rude poetic strains.
From remote and sunless suburbs came they to the friendly guild,
Building nests in Fame's great temple, as in spouts the swallows build.
As the weaver plied the shuttle, wove he too the mystic rhyme,
And the smith his iron measures hammered to the anvil's chime;
Thanking God, whose boundless wisdom makes the flowers of poesy
In the forge's dust and cinders, in the tissues of the loom.
Here Hans Sachs, the cobbler-poet, laureate of the gentle craft,
Wisest of the Twelve Wise Masters, in huge folios sang and laughed. 17
But his house is now an ale-house, with a nicely sanded floor,
And a garland in the window, and his face above the door;
Painted by some humble artist, as in Adam Puschman's song, 18
As the old man gray and dove-like, with his great beard white and long.
And at night the swart mechanic comes to drown his cark and care,
Quaffing ale from pewter tankards, in the master's antique chair.
Vanished is the ancient splendour, and before my dreamy eye
Wave these mingling shapes and figures, like a faded tapestry.
Not thy councils, not thy kaisers, win for thee the world's regard;
But thy painter Albrecht Dürer, and Hans Sachs thy cobbler-bard.
Thus, 0 Nuremberg, a wanderer from a region far away,
As he paced thy streets and court-yards, sang in thought his careless
Gathering from the pavement's crevice, as a floweret of the soil,
The nobility of labour,—the long pedigree of toil.
In his chamber, weak and dying,
Was the Norman baron lying;
Loud, without the tempest thundered,
Ánd the castle-turret shook.
In this fight was Death the gainer,
Spite of vassal and retainer,
And the lands his sires had plundered,
Written in the Doomsday Book.
By his bed a monk was seated,
Who in humble voice repeated
Many a prayer and pater-noster
From the missal on his knee ;
And, amid the tempest pealing,
Sounds of bells came faintly stealing,
Bells that, from the neighbouring kloster,
Rang for the Nativity.
In the hall, the serf and vassal
Held that night their Christmas wassail ;
Many a carol, old and saintly,
Sang the minstrels and the waits.
And so loud these Saxon gleemen
Sang to slaves the songs of freemen,
That the storm was heard but faintly,
Knocking at the castle-gates.
Till at length the lays they chaunted
Reached the chamber terror-haunted,
Where the monk, with accents holy,
Whispered at the baron's ear.
Tears upon his eyelids glistened,
As he paused awhile and listened,
And the dying baron slowly
Turned his weary head to hear.