Part 22 out of 32
Must yield to the Expedient!
Thou art a Prince. If thou shouldst die
What hearts and hopes would prostrate lie!
What noble deeds, what fair renown,
Into the grave with thee go down!
What acts of valor and courtesy
Remain undone, and die with thee!
Thou art the last of all thy race!
With thee a noble name expires,
And vanishes from the earth's face
The glorious memory of thy sires!
She is a peasant. In her veins
Flows common and plebeian blood;
It is such as daily and hourly stains
The dust and the turf of battle plains,
By vassals shed, in a crimson flood,
Without reserve and without reward,
At the slightest summons of their lord!
But thine is precious; the fore-appointed
Blood of kings, of God's anointed!
Moreover, what has the world in store
For one like her, but tears and toil?
Daughter of sorrow, serf of the soil,
A peasant's child and a peasant's wife,
And her soul within her sick and sore
With the roughness and barrenness of life!
I marvel not at the heart's recoil
From a fate like this, in one so tender,
Nor at its eagerness to surrender
All the wretchedness, want, and woe
That await it in this world below,
For the unutterable splendor
Of the world of rest beyond the skies.
So the Church sanctions the sacrifice:
Therefore inhale this healing balm,
And breathe this fresh life into thine;
Accept the comfort and the calm
She offers, as a gift divine;
Let her fall down and anoint thy feet
With the ointment costly and most sweet
Of her young blood, and thou shalt live.
And will the righteous Heaven forgive?
No action, whether foal or fair,
Is ever done, but it leaves somewhere
A record, written by fingers ghostly,
As a blessing or a curse, and mostly
In the greater weakness or greater strength
Of the acts which follow it, till at length
The wrongs of ages are redressed,
And the justice of God made manifest!
In ancient records it is stated
That, whenever an evil deed is done,
Another devil is created
To scourge and torment the offending one!
But evil is only good perverted,
And Lucifer, the bearer of Light,
But an angel fallen and deserted,
Thrust from his Father's house with a curse
Into the black and endless night.
If justice rules the universe,
From the good actions of good men
Angels of light should be begotten.
And thus the balance restored again.
Yes; if the world were not so rotten,
And so given over to the Devil!
But this deed, is it good or evil?
Have I thine absolution free
To do it, and without restriction?
Ay; and from whatsoever sin
Lieth around it and within,
From all crimes in which it may involve thee,
I now release thee and absolve thee!
Give me thy holy benediction.
LUCIFER, stretching forth his hand and muttering.
THE ANGEL, with the aeolian harp.
Take heed! take heed!
Noble art thou in thy birth,
By the good and the great of earth
Hast thou been taught!
Be noble in every thought
And in every deed!
Let not the illusion of thy senses
Betray thee to deadly offences,
Be strong! be good! be pure!
The right only shall endure,
All things else are but false pretences.
I entreat thee, I implore,
Listen no more
To the suggestions of an evil spirit,
That even now is there,
Making the foul seem fair,
And selfishness itself a virtue and a merit!
A ROOM IN THE FARM-HOUSE
It is decided! For many days,
And nights as many, we have had
A nameless terror in our breast,
Making us timid, and afraid
Of God, and his mysterious ways!
We have been sorrowful and sad;
Much have we suffered, much have prayed
That He would lead us as is best,
And show us what his will required.
It is decided; and we give
Our child, O Prince, that you may live!
It is of God. He has inspired
This purpose in her: and through pain,
Out of a world of sin and woe,
He takes her to Himself again.
The mother's heart resists no longer;
With the Angel of the Lord in vain
It wrestled, for he was the stronger.
As Abraham offered long ago
His son unto the Lord, and even
The Everlasting Father in heaven
Gave his, as a lamb unto the slaughter,
So do I offer up my daughter!
URSULA hides her face.
My life is little,
Only a cup of water,
But pure and limpid.
Take it, O my Prince!
Let it refresh you,
Let it restore you.
It is given willingly,
It is given freely;
May God bless the gift!
And the giver!
I accept it!
Where are the children?
They are already asleep.
What if they were dead?
IN THE GARDEN
I have one thing to ask of you.
What is it?
It is already granted.
When we are gone from here, and on our way
Are journeying to Salerno, you will not,
By word or deed, endeavor to dissuade me
And turn me from my purpose; but remember
That as a pilgrim to the Holy City
Walks unmolested, and with thoughts of pardon
Occupied wholly, so would I approach
The gates of Heaven, in this great jubilee,
With my petition, putting off from me
All thoughts of earth, as shoes from off my feet.
Promise me this.
Thy words fall from thy lips
Like roses from the lips of Angelo: and angels
Might stoop to pick them up!
Will you not promise?
If ever we depart upon this journey,
So long to one or both of us, I promise.
Shall we not go, then? Have you lifted me
Into the air, only to hurl me back
Wounded upon the ground? and offered me
The waters of eternal life, to bid me
Drink the polluted puddles of the world?
O Elsie! what a lesson thou dost teach me!
The life which is, and that which is to come,
Suspended hang in such nice equipoise
A breath disturbs the balance; and that scale
In which we throw our hearts preponderates,
And the other, like an empty one, flies up,
And is accounted vanity and air!
To me the thought of death is terrible,
Having such hold on life. To thee it is not
So much even as the lifting of a latch;
Only a step into the open air
Out of a tent already luminous
With light that shines through its transparent walls!
O pure in heart! from thy sweet dust shall grow
Lilies, upon whose petals will be written
"Ave Maria" in characters of gold!
A STREET IN STRASBURG
Night. PRINCE HENRY wandering alone, wrapped in a cloak.
Still is the night. The sound of feet
Has died away from the empty street,
And like an artisan, bending down
His head on his anvil, the dark town
Sleeps, with a slumber deep and sweet.
Sleepless and restless, I alone,
In the dusk and damp of these walls of stone,
Wander and weep in my remorse!
CRIER OF THE DEAD, ringing a bell.
All ye that sleep!
Pray for the Dead!
Pray for the Dead!
Hark! with what accents loud and hoarse
This warder on the walls of death
Sends forth the challenge of his breath!
I see the dead that sleep in the grave!
They rise up and their garments wave,
Dimly and spectral, as they rise,
With the light of another world in their eyes!
CRIER OF THE DEAD.
All ye that sleep!
Pray for the Dead!
Pray for the Dead!
Why for the dead, who are at rest?
Pray for the living, in whose breast
The struggle between right and wrong
Is raging terrible and strong,
As when good angels war with devils!
This is the Master of the Revels,
Who, at Life's flowing feast, proposes
The health of absent friends, and pledges,
Not in bright goblets crowned with roses,
And tinkling as we touch their edges,
But with his dismal, tinkling bell.
That mocks and mimics their funeral knell.
CRIER OP THE DEAD.
All ye that sleep!
Pray for the Dead!
Pray for the Dead!
Wake not, beloved! be thy sleep
Silent as night is, and as deep!
There walks a sentinel at thy gate
Whose heart is heavy and desolate,
And the heavings of whose bosom number
The respirations of thy slumber,
As if some strange, mysterious fate
Had linked two hearts in one, and mine
Went madly wheeling about thine,
Only with wider and wilder sweep!
CRIER OP THE DEAD, at a distance.
All ye that sleep!
Pray for the Dead!
Pray for the Dead!
Lo! with what depth of blackness thrown
Against the clouds, far up the skies
The walls of the cathedral rise,
Like a mysterious grove of stone,
With fitful lights and shadows blending,
As from behind, the moon ascending,
Lights its dim aisles and paths unknown!
The wind is rising; but the boughs
Rise not and fall not with the wind,
That through their foliage sobs and soughs;
Only the cloudy rack behind,
Drifting onward, wild and ragged,
Gives to each spire and buttress jagged
A seeming motion undefined.
Below on the square, an armed knight,
Still as a statue and as white,
Sits on his steed, and the moonbeams quiver
Upon the points of his armor bright
As on the ripples of a river.
He lifts the visor from his cheek,
And beckons, and makes as he would speak.
WALTER the Minnesinger.
Friend! can you tell me where alight
Thuringia's horsemen for the night?
For I have lingered in the rear,
And wander vainly up and down.
I am a stranger in the town.
As thou art; but the voice I hear
Is not a stranger to mine ear.
Thou art Walter of the Vogelweid!
Thou hast guessed rightly; and thy name
Is Henry of Hoheneck!
Ay, the same.
WALTER, embracing him.
Come closer, closer to my side!
What brings thee hither? What potent charm
Has drawn thee from thy German farm
Into the old Alsatian city?
A tale of wonder and of pity!
A wretched man, almost by stealth
Dragging my body to Salem,
In the vain hope and search for health,
And destined never to return.
Already thou hast heard the rest.
But what brings thee, thus armed and dight
In the equipments of a knight?
Dost thou not see upon my breast
The cross of the Crusaders shine?
My pathway leads to Palestine.
Ah, would that way were also mine!
O noble poet! thou whose heart
Is like a nest of singing-birds
Rocked on the topmost bough of life,
Wilt thou, too, from our sky depart,
And in the clangor of the strife
Mingle the music of thy words?
My hopes are high, my heart is proud,
And like a trumpet long and loud,
Thither my thoughts all clang and ring!
My life is in my hand, and lo!
I grasp and bend it as a bow,
And shoot forth from its trembling string
An arrow, that shall be, perchance,
Like the arrow of the Israelite king
Shot from the window towards the east.
That of the Lord's deliverance!
My life, alas! is what thou seest!
O enviable fate! to be
Strong, beautiful, and armed like thee
With lyre and sword, with song and steel;
A hand to smite, a heart to feel!
Thy heart, thy hand, thy lyre, thy sword,
Thou givest all unto thy Lord;
While I, so mean and abject grown,
Am thinking of myself alone,
Be patient; Time will reinstate
Thy health and fortunes.
'T is too late!
I cannot strive against my fate!
Come with me; for my steed is weary;
Our journey has been long and dreary,
And, dreaming of his stall, he dints
With his impatient hoofs the flints.
PRINCE HENRY, aside.
I am ashamed, in my disgrace,
To look into that noble face!
To-morrow, Walter, let it be.
To-morrow, at the dawn of day,
I shall again be on my way.
Come with me to the hostelry,
For I have many things to say.
Our journey into Italy
Perchance together we may make;
Wilt thou not do it for my sake?
A sick man's pace would but impede
Thine eager and impatient speed.
Besides, my pathway leads me round
To Hirsehau, in the forest's bound,
Where I assemble man and steed,
And all things for my journey's need.
They go out.
LUCIFER, flying over the city.
Sleep, sleep, O city! till the light
Wake you to sin and crime again,
Whilst on your dreams, like dismal rain,
I scatter downward through the night
My maledictions dark and deep.
I have more martyrs in your walls
Than God has; and they cannot sleep;
They are my bondsmen and my thralls;
Their wretched lives are full of pain,
Wild agonies of nerve and brain;
And every heart-beat, every breath,
Is a convulsion worse than death!
Sleep, sleep, O city! though within
The circuit of your walls there be
No habitation free from sin,
And all its nameless misery;
The aching heart, the aching head,
Grief for the living and the dead,
And foul corruption of the time,
Disease, distress, and want, and woe,
And crimes, and passions that may grow
Until they ripen into crime!
SQUARE IN FRONT OF THE CATHEDRAL
Easter Sunday. FRIAR CUTHBERT preaching to the crowd from a
pulpit in the open air. PRINCE HENRY and Elsie crossing the
This is the day, when from the dead
Our Lord arose; and everywhere,
Out of their darkness and despair,
Triumphant over fears and foes,
The hearts of his disciples rose,
When to the women, standing near,
The Angel in shining vesture said,
"The Lord is risen; he is not here!"
And, mindful that the day is come,
On all the hearths in Christendom
The fires are quenched, to be again
Rekindled from the sun, that high
Is dancing in the cloudless sky.
The churches are all decked with flowers,
The salutations among men
Are but the Angel's words divine,
"Christ is arisen!" and the bells
Catch the glad murmur, as it swells,
And chant together in their towers.
All hearts are glad; and free from care
The faces of the people shine.
See what a crowd is in the square,
Gayly and gallantly arrayed!
Let us go back; I am afraid!
Nay, let us mount the church-steps here,
Under the doorway's sacred shadow;
We can see all things, and be freer
From the crowd that madly heaves and presses!
What a gay pageant! what bright dresses!
It looks like a flower-besprinkled meadow.
What is that yonder on the square?
A pulpit in the open air,
And a Friar, who is preaching to the crowd
In a voice so deep and clear and loud,
That, if we listen, and give heed,
His lowest words will reach the ear.
FRIAR CUTHBERT, gesticulating and cracking a postilion's whip.
What ho! good people! do you not hear?
Dashing along at the top of his speed,
Booted and spurred, on his jaded steed,
A courier comes with words of cheer.
Courier! what is the news, I pray?
"Christ is arisen!" Whence come you? "From court."
Then I do not believe it; you say it in sport.
Cracks his whip again.
Ah, here comes another, riding this way;
We soon shall know what he has to say.
Courier! what are the tidings to-day?
"Christ is arisen!" Whence come you? "From town."
Then I do not believe it; away with you, clown.
Cracks his whip more violently.
And here comes a third, who is spurring amain;
What news do you bring, with your loose-hanging rein,
Your spurs wet with blood, and your bridle with foam?
"Christ is arisen!" Whence come you? "From Rome."
Ah, now I believe. He is risen, indeed.
Ride on with the news, at the top of your speed!
Great applause among the crowd.
To come back to my text! When the news was first spread
That Christ was arisen indeed from the dead,
Very great was the joy of the angels in heaven;
And as great the dispute as to who should carry
The tidings thereof to the Virgin Mary,
Pierced to the heart with sorrows seven.
Old Father Adam was first to propose,
As being the author of all our woes;
But he was refused, for fear, said they,
He would stop to eat apples on the way!
Abel came next, but petitioned in vain,
Because he might meet with his brother Cain!
Noah, too, was refused, lest his weakness for wine
Should delay him at every tavern-sign;
And John the Baptist could not get a vote,
On account of his old-fashioned camel's-hair coat;
And the Penitent Thief, who died on the cross,
Was reminded that all his bones were broken!
Till at last, when each in turn had spoken,
The company being still at loss,
The Angel, who rolled away the stone,
Was sent to the sepulchre, all alone.
And filled with glory that gloomy prison,
And said to the Virgin, "The Lord is arisen!"
The Cathedral bells ring.
But hark! the bells are beginning to chime;
And I feel that I am growing hoarse.
I will put an end to my discourse,
And leave the rest for some other time.
For the bells themselves are the best of preachers;
Their brazen lips are learned teachers,
From their pulpits of stone, in the upper air,
Sounding aloft, without crack or flaw,
Shriller than trumpets under the Law,
Now a sermon, and now a prayer.
The clangorous hammer is the tongue,
This way, that way, beaten and swung,
That from mouth of brass, as from Month of Gold,
May be taught the Testaments, New and Old,
And above it the great cross-beam of wood
Representeth the Holy Rood,
Upon which, like the bell, our hopes are hung.
And the wheel wherewith it is swayed and rung
Is the mind of man, that round and round
Sways, and maketh the tongue to sound!
And the rope, with its twisted cordage three,
Denoteth the Scriptural Trinity
Of Morals, and Symbols, and History;
And the upward and downward motion show
That we touch upon matters high and low;
And the constant change and transmutation
Of action and of contemplation,
Downward, the Scripture brought from on high,
Upward, exalted again to the sky;
Downward, the literal interpretation,
Upward, the Vision and Mystery!
And now, my hearers, to make an end,
I have only one word more to say;
In the church, in honor of Easter day
Will be presented a Miracle Play;
And I hope you will have the grace to attend.
Christ bring us at last to his felicity!
Pax vobiscum! et Benedicite!
IN THE CATHEDRAL
I am at home here in my Father's house!
These paintings of the Saints upon the walls
Have all familiar and benignant faces.
The portraits of the family of God!
Thine own hereafter shall be placed among them.
How very grand it is and wonderful!
Never have I beheld a church so splendid!
Such columns, and such arches, and such windows,
So many tombs and statues in the chapels,
And under them so many confessionals.
They must be for the rich. I should not like
To tell my sins in such a church as this.
Who built it?
A great master of his craft,
Erwin von Steinbach; but not he alone,
For many generations labored with him.
Children that came to see these Saints in stone,
As day by day out of the blocks they rose,
Grew old and died, and still the work went on,
And on, and on, and is not yet completed.
The generation that succeeds our own
Perhaps may finish it. The architect
Built his great heart into these sculptured stones,
And with him toiled his children, and their lives
Were builded, with his own, into the walls,
As offerings unto God. You see that statue
Fixing its joyous, but deep-wrinkled eyes
Upon the Pillars of the Angels yonder.
That is the image of the master, carved
By the fair hand of his own child, Sabina.
How beautiful is the column that he looks at!
That, too, she sculptured. At the base of it
Stand the Evangelists; above their heads
Four Angels blowing upon marble trumpets,
And over them the blessed Christ, surrounded
By his attendant ministers, upholding
The instruments of his passion.
O my Lord!
Would I could leave behind me upon earth
Some monument to thy glory, such as this!
A greater monument than this thou leavest
In thine own life, all purity and love!
See, too, the Rose, above the western portal
Resplendent with a thousand gorgeous colors,
The perfect flower of Gothic loveliness!
And, in the gallery, the long line of statues,
Christ with his twelve Apostles watching us!
A Bishop in armor, booted and spurred, passes with his train.
But come away; we have not time to look,
The crowd already fills the church, and yonder
Upon a stage, a herald with a trumpet,
Clad like the Angel Gabriel, proclaims
The Mystery that will now be represented.
Come, good people, all and each,
Come and listen to our speech!
In your presence here I stand,
With a trumpet in my hand,
To announce the Easter Play,
Which we represent to-day!
First of all we shall rehearse,
In our action and our verse,
The Nativity of our Lord,
As written in the old record
Of the Protevangelion,
So that he who reads may run!
Blows his trumpet.
MERCY, at the feet of God.
Have pity, Lord! be not afraid
To save mankind, whom thou hast made,
Nor let the souls that were betrayed
It cannot be, it must not be!
When in the garden placed by thee,
The fruit of the forbidden tree
He ate, and he must die!
Have pity, Lord! let penitence
Atone for disobedience,
Nor let the fruit of man's offence
Be endless misery!
What penitence proportionate
Can e'er be felt for sin so great?
Of the forbidden fruit he ate,
And damned must he be!
He shall be saved, if that within
The bounds of earth one free from sin
Be found, who for his kith and kin
Will suffer martyrdom.
THE FOUR VIRTUES.
Lord! we have searched the world around,
From centre to the utmost bound,
But no such mortal can be found;
Despairing, back we come.
No mortal, but a God-made man,
Can ever carry out this plan,
Achieving what none other can,
Salvation unto all!
Go, then, O my beloved Son!
It can by thee alone be done;
By thee the victory shall be won
O'er Satan and the Fall!
Here the ANGEL GABRIEL shall leave Paradise and fly towards the
earth; the jaws of hell open below, and the Devils walk about,
making a great noise.
II. MARY AT THE WELL
Along the garden walk, and thence
Through the wicket in the garden fence
I steal with quiet pace,
My pitcher at the well to fill,
That lies so deep and cool and still
In this sequestered place.
These sycamores keep guard around;
I see no face, I hear no sound,
Save bubblings of the spring,
And my companions, who, within,
The threads of gold and scarlet spin,
And at their labor sing.
THE ANGEL GABRIEL.
Hail, Virgin Mary, full of grace!
Here MARY looketh around her, trembling, and then saith:
Who is it speaketh in this place,
With such a gentle voice?
The Lord of heaven is with thee now!
Blessed among all women thou,
Who art his holy choice!
MARY, setting down the pitcher.
What can this mean? No one is near,
And yet, such sacred words I hear,
I almost fear to stay.
Here the ANGEL, appearing to her, shall say:
Fear not, O Mary! but believe!
For thou, a Virgin, shalt conceive
A child this very day.
Fear not, O Mary! from the sky
The Majesty of the Most High
Shall overshadow thee!
Behold the handmaid of the Lord!
According to thy holy word,
So be it unto me!
Here the Devils shall again make a great noise, under the stage.
III. THE ANGELS OF THE SEVEN PLANETS, BEARING THE STAR OF
The Angels of the Planets Seven,
Across the shining fields of heaven
The natal star we bring!
Dropping our sevenfold virtues down
As priceless jewels in the crown
Of Christ, our new-born King.
I am the Angel of the Sun,
Whose flaming wheels began to run
When God Almighty's breath
Said to the darkness and the Night,
Let there he light! and there was light!
I bring the gift of Faith.
I am the Angel of the Moon,
Darkened to be rekindled soon
Beneath the azure cope!
Nearest to earth, it is my ray
That best illumes the midnight way;
I bring the gift of Hope!
The Angel of the Star of Love,
The Evening Star, that shines above
The place where lovers be,
Above all happy hearths and homes,
On roofs of thatch, or golden domes,
I give him Charity!
The Planet Jupiter is mine!
The mightiest star of all that shine,
Except the sun alone!
He is the High Priest of the Dove,
And sends, from his great throne above,
Justice, that shall atone!
The Planet Mercury, whose place
Is nearest to the sun in space,
Is my allotted sphere!
And with celestial ardor swift
I hear upon my hands the gift
Of heavenly Prudence here!
I am the Minister of Mars,
The strongest star among the stars!
My songs of power prelude
The march and battle of man's life,
And for the suffering and the strife,
I give him Fortitude!
The Angel of the uttermost
Of all the shining, heavenly host,
From the far-off expanse
Of the Saturnian, endless space
I bring the last, the crowning grace,
The gift of Temperance!
A sudden light shines from the windows of the stable in the
IV. THE WISE MEN OF THE EAST
The stable of the Inn. The VIRGIN and CHILD. Three Gypsy Kings,
GASPAR, MELCHIOR, and BELSHAZZAR, shall come in.
Hail to thee, Jesus of Nazareth!
Though in a manger thou draw breath,
Thou art greater than Life and Death,
Greater than Joy or Woe!
This cross upon the line of life
Portendeth struggle, toil, and strife,
And through a region with peril rife
In darkness shalt thou go!
Hail to thee, King of Jerusalem!
Though humbly born in Bethlehem,
A sceptre and a diadem
Await thy brow and hand!
The sceptre is a simple reed,
The crown will make thy temples bleed,
And in thine hour of greatest need,
Abashed thy subjects stand!
Hail to thee, Christ of Christendom!
O'er all the earth thy kingdom come!
From distant Trebizond to Rome
Thy name shall men adore!
Peace and good-will among all men,
The Virgin has returned again,
Returned the old Saturnian reign
And Golden Age once more.
THE CHILD CHRIST.
Jesus, the Son of God, am I,
Born here to suffer and to die
According to the prophecy,
That other men may live!
And now these clothes, that wrapped Him, take
And keep them precious, for his sake;
Our benediction thus we make,
Naught else have we to give.
She gives them swaddling-clothes and they depart.
V. THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT
Here JOSEPH shall come in, leading an ass, on which are seated
MARY and the CHILD.
Here will we rest us, under these
O'erhanging branches of the trees,
Where robins chant their Litanies
And canticles of joy.
My saddle-girths have given way
With trudging through the heat to-day;
To you I think it is but play
To ride and hold the boy.
Hark! how the robins shout and sing,
As if to hail their infant King!
I will alight at yonder spring
To wash his little coat.
And I will hobble well the ass,
Lest, being loose upon the grass,
He should escape; for, by the mass,
He's nimble as a goat.
Here MARY shall alight and go to the spring.
O Joseph! I am much afraid,
For men are sleeping in the shade;
I fear that we shall be waylaid,
And robbed and beaten sore!
Here a band of robbers shall be seen sleeping, two of whom shall
rise and come forward.
Cock's soul! deliver up your gold!
I pray you, sirs, let go your hold!
You see that I am weak and old,
Of wealth I have no store.
Give up your money!
Let these people go in peace.
First let them pay for their release,
And then go on their way.
These forty groats I give in fee,
If thou wilt only silent be.
May God he merciful to thee
Upon the Judgment Day!
When thirty years shall have gone by,
I at Jerusalem shall die,
By Jewish hands exalted high
On the accursed tree,
Then on my right and my left side,
These thieves shall both be crucified,
And Titus thenceforth shall abide
In paradise with me.
Here a great rumor of trumpets and horses, like the noise of a
king with his army, and the robbers shall take flight.
VI. THE SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS
Filled am I with great wonderment
At this unwelcome news!
Am I not Herod? Who shall dare
My crown to take, my sceptre bear,
As king among the Jews?
Here he shall stride up and down and flourish his sword.
What ho! I fain would drink a can
Of the strong wine of Canaan!
The wine of Helbon bring
I purchased at the Fair of Tyre,
As red as blood, as hot as fire,
And fit for any king!
He quaffs great goblets of wine.
Now at the window will I stand,
While in the street the armed band
The little children slay;
The babe just born in Bethlehem
Will surely slaughtered be with them,
Nor live another day!
Here a voice of lamentation shall be heard in the street.
O wicked king! O cruel speed!
To do this most unrighteous deed!
My children all are slain!
Ho, seneschal! another cup!
With wine of Sorek fill it up!
I would a bumper drain!
May maledictions fall and blast
Thyself and lineage to the last
Of all thy kith and kin!
Another goblet! quick! and stir
Pomegranate juice and drops of myrrh
And calamus therein!
SOLDIERS, in the street.
Give up thy child into our hands!
It is King Herod who commands
That he should thus be slain!
THE NURSE MEDUSA.
O monstrous men! What have ye done!
It is King Herod's only son
That ye have cleft in twain!
Ah, luckless day! What words of fear
Are these that smite upon my ear
With such a doleful sound!
What torments rack my heart and head!
Would I were dead! would I were dead,
And buried in the ground!
He falls down and writhes as though eaten by worms. Hell opens,
and SATAN and ASTAROTH come forth and drag him down.
VII. JESUS AT PLAY WITH HIS SCHOOLMATES
The shower is over. Let us play,
And make some sparrows out of clay,
Down by the river's side.
See, how the stream has overflowed
Its banks, and o'er the meadow road
Is spreading far and wide!
They draw water out of the river by channels and form little
pools. JESUS makes twelve sparrows of clay, and the other boys do
Look! look how prettily I make
These little sparrows by the lake
Bend down their necks and drink!
Now will I make them sing and soar
So far, they shall return no more
Unto this river's brink.
That canst thou not! They are but clay,
They cannot sing, nor fly away
Above the meadow lands!
Fly, fly! ye sparrows! you are free!
And while you live, remember me,
Who made you with my hands.
Here JESUS shall clap his hands, and the sparrows shall fly away,
Thou art a sorcerer, I know;
Oft has my mother told me so,
I will not play with thee!
He strikes JESUS in the right side.
Ah, Judas! thou hast smote my side,
And when I shall be crucified,
There shall I pierced be!
Here JOSEPH shall come in and say:
Ye wicked boys! why do ye play,
And break the holy Sabbath day?
What, think ye, will your mothers say
To see you in such plight!
In such a sweat and such a heat,
With all that mud upon your feet!
There's not a beggar in the street
Makes such a sorry sight!
VIII. THE VILLAGE SCHOOL
The RABBI BEN ISRAEL, sitting on a high stool, with a long beard,
and a rod in his hand.
I am the Rabbi Ben Israel,
Throughout this village known full well,
And, as my scholars all will tell,
Learned in things divine;
The Cabala and Talmud hoar
Than all the prophets prize I more,
For water is all Bible lore,
But Mishna is strong wine.
My fame extends from West to East,
And always, at the Purim feast,
I am as drunk as any beast
That wallows in his sty;
The wine it so elateth me,
That I no difference can see
Between "Accursed Haman be!"
And "Blessed be Mordecai!"
Come hither, Judas Iscariot;
Say, if thy lesson thou hast got
From the Rabbinical Book or not.
Why howl the dogs at night?
In the Rabbinical Book, it saith
The dogs howl, when with icy breath
Great Sammael, the Angel of Death,
Takes through the town his flight!
Well, boy! now say, if thou art wise,
When the Angel of Death, who is full of eyes,
Comes where a sick man dying lies,
What doth he to the wight?
He stands beside him, dark and tall,
Holding a sword, from which doth fall
Into his mouth a drop of gall,
And so he turneth white.
And now, my Judas, say to me
What the great Voices Four may be,
That quite across the world do flee,
And are not heard by men?
The Voice of the Sun in heaven's dome,
The Voice of the Murmuring of Rome,
The Voice of a Soul that goeth home,
And the Angel of the Rain!
Right are thine answers every one!
Now, little Jesus, the carpenter's son,
Let us see how thy task is done;
Canst thou thy letters say?
What next? Do not stop yet!
Go on with all the alphabet.
Come, Aleph, Beth; dost thou forget?
Cock's soul! thou'dst rather play!
What Aleph means I fain would know
Before I any farther go!
Oh, by Saint Peter! wouldst thou so?
Come hither, boy, to me.
As surely as the letter Jod
Once cried aloud, and spake to God,
So surely shalt thou feel this rod,
And punished shalt thou be!
Here RABBI BEN ISRAEL shall lift up his rod to strike Jesus, and
his right arm shall be paralyzed.
IX. CROWNED WITH FLOWERS
JESUS sitting among his playmates, crowned with flowers as their
We spread our garments on the ground!
With fragrant flowers thy head is crowned
While like a guard we stand around,
And hail thee as our King!
Thou art the new King of the Jews!
Nor let the passers-by refuse
To bring that homage which men use
To majesty to bring.
Here a traveller shall go by, and the boys shall lay hold of his
garments and say:
Come hither I and all reverence pay
Unto our monarch, crowned to-day!
Then go rejoicing on your way,
In all prosperity!
Hail to the King of Bethlehem,
Who weareth in his diadem
The yellow crocus for the gem
Of his authority!
He passes by; and others come in, bearing on a litter a sick
Set down the litter and draw near!
The King of Bethlehem is here!
What ails the child, who seems to fear
That we shall do him harm?
He climbed up to the robin's nest,
And out there darted, from his rest,
A serpent with a crimson crest,
And stung him in the arm.
Bring him to me, and let me feel
The wounded place; my touch can heal
The sting of serpents, and can steal
The poison from the bite!
He touches the wound, and the boy begins to cry.
Cease to lament! I can foresee
That thou hereafter known shalt be,
Among the men who follow me,
As Simon the Canaanite!
In the after part of the day
Will be represented another play,
Of the Passion of our Blessed Lord,
Beginning directly after Nones!
At the close of which we shall accord,
By way of benison and reward,
The sight of a holy Martyr's bones!
THE ROAD TO HIRSCHAU
PRINCE HENRY and ELSIE, with their attendants on horseback.
Onward and onward the highway runs to the distant city,
Tidings of human joy and disaster, of love and of hate,
of doing and daring!
This life of ours is a wild aeolian harp of many
a joyous strain,
But under them all there runs a loud perpetual wail,
as of souls in pain.
Faith alone can interpret life, and the heart
that aches and bleeds with the stigma
Of pain, alone bears the likeness of Christ,
and can comprehend its dark enigma.
Man is selfish, and seeketh pleasure with little care
of what may betide,
Else why am I travelling here beside thee,
a demon that rides by an angel's side?
All the hedges are white with dust, and the great dog
under the creaking wain
Hangs his head in the lazy heat, while onward
the horses toil and strain.
Now they stop at the wayside inn, and the wagoner laughs
with the landlord's daughter,
While out of the dripping trough the horses
distend their leathern sides with water.
All through life there are wayside inns,
where man may refresh his soul with love;
Even the lowest may quench his thirst
at rivulets fed by springs from above.
Yonder, where rises the cross of stone,
our journey along the highway ends,
And over the fields, by a bridle path,
down into the broad green valley descends.
I am not sorry to leave behind the beaten road
with its dust and heat
The air will be sweeter far, and the turf will be softer
under our horses' feet.
They turn down a green lane.
Sweet is the air with the budding haws,
and the valley stretching for miles below
Is white with blossoming cherry-trees,
as if just covered with lightest snow.
Over our heads a white cascade is gleaming
against the distant hill;
We cannot hear it, nor see it move, but it hangs
like a banner when winds are still.
Damp and cool is this deep ravine, and cool
the sound of the brook by our side!
What is this castle that rises above us,
and lords it over a land so wide?
It is the home of the Counts of Calva;
well have I known these scenes of old,
Well I remember each tower and turret, remember the brooklet,
the wood, and the wold.
Hark! from the little village below us the bells
of the church are ringing for rain!
Priests and peasants in long procession come forth
and kneel on the arid plain.
They have not long to wait, for I see in the south
uprising a little cloud,
That before the sun shall be set will cover
the sky above us as with a shroud.
They pass on.
THE CONVENT OF HIRSCHAU IN THE BLACK FOREST.
The Convent cellar. FRIAR CLAUS comes in with a light and a
basket of empty flagons.
I always enter this sacred place
With a thoughtful, solemn, and reverent pace,
Pausing long enough on each stair
To breathe an ejaculatory prayer,
And a benediction on the vines
That produce these various sorts of wines!
For my part, I am well content
That we have got through with the tedious Lent!
Fasting is all very well for those
Who have to contend with invisible foes;
But I am quite sure it does not agree
With a quiet, peaceable man like me,
Who am not of that nervous and meagre kind,
That are always distressed in body and mind!
And at times it really does me good
To come down among this brotherhood,
Dwelling forever underground,
Silent, contemplative, round and sound;
Each one old, and brown with mould,
But filled to the lips with the ardor of youth,
With the latent power and love of truth,
And with virtues fervent and manifold.
I have heard it said, that at Easter-tide,
When buds are swelling on every side,
And the sap begins to move in the vine,
Then in all cellars, far and wide,
The oldest as well as the newest wine
Begins to stir itself, and ferment,
With a kind of revolt and discontent
At being so long in darkness pent,
And fain would burst from its sombre tun
To bask on the hillside in the sun;
As in the bosom of us poor friars,
The tumult of half-subdued desires
For the world that we have left behind
Disturbs at times all peace of mind!
And now that we have lived through Lent,
My duty it is, as often before,
To open awhile the prison-door,
And give these restless spirits vent.
Now here is a cask that stands alone,
And has stood a hundred years or more,
Its beard of cobwebs, long and hoar,
Trailing and sweeping along the floor,
Like Barbarossa, who sits in his cave,
Taciturn, sombre, sedate, and grave,
Till his beard has grown through the table of stone!
It is of the quick and not of the dead!
In its veins the blood is hot and red,
And a heart still beats in those ribs of oak
That time may have tamed, but has not broke!
It comes from Bacharach on the Rhine,
Is one of the three best kinds of wine,
And costs some hundred florins the ohm;
But that I do not consider dear,
When I remember that every year
Four butts are sent to the Pope of Rome.
And whenever a goblet thereof I drain,
The old rhyme keeps running in my brain;
At Bacharach on the Rhine,
At Hochheim on the Main,
And at Wurzburg on the Stein,
Grow the three best kinds of wine!
They are all good wines, and better far
Than those of the Neckar, or those of the Ahr.
In particular, Wurzburg well may boast
Of its blessed wine of the Holy Ghost,
Which of all wines I like the most.
This I shall draw for the Abbot's drinking,
Who seems to be much of my way of thinking.
Fills a flagon.
Ah! how the streamlet laughs and sings!
What a delicious fragrance springs
From the deep flagon, while it fills,
As of hyacinths and daffodils!
Between this cask and the Abbot's lips
Many have been the sips and slips;
Many have been the draughts of wine,
On their way to his, that have stopped at mine;
And many a time my soul has hankered
For a deep draught out of his silver tankard,
When it should have been busy with other affairs,
Less with its longings and more with its prayers.
But now there is no such awkward condition,
No danger of death and eternal perdition;
So here's to the Abbot and Brothers all,
Who dwell in this convent of Peter and Paul!
O cordial delicious! O soother of pain!
It flashes like sunshine into my brain!
A benison rest on the Bishop who sends
Such a fudder of wine as this to his friends!
And now a flagon for such as may ask
A draught from the noble Bacharach cask,
And I will be gone, though I know full well
The cellar's a cheerfuller place than the cell.
Behold where he stands, all sound and good,
Brown and old in his oaken hood;
Silent he seems externally
As any Carthusian monk may be;
But within, what a spirit of deep unrest!
What a seething and simmering in his breast!
As if the heaving of his great heart
Would burst his belt of oak apart!
Let me unloose this button of wood,
And quiet a little his turbulent mood.
Sets it running.
See! how its currents gleam and shine,
As if they had caught the purple hues
Of autumn sunsets on the Rhine,
Descending and mingling with the dews;
Or as if the grapes were stained with the blood
Of the innocent boy, who, some years back,
Was taken and crucified by the Jews,
In that ancient town of Bacharach!
Perdition upon those infidel Jews,
In that ancient town of Bacharach!
The beautiful town, that gives us wine
With the fragrant odor of Muscadine!
I should deem it wrong to let this pass
Without first touching my lips to the glass,
For here in the midst of the current I stand
Like the stone Pfalz in the midst of the river,
Taking toll upon either hand,
And much more grateful to the giver.
Here, now, is a very inferior kind,
Such as in any town you may find,
Such as one might imagine would suit
The rascal who drank wine out of a boot.
And, after all, it was not a crime,
For he won thereby Dorf Huffelsheim.
A jolly old toper! who at a pull
Could drink a postilion's jack-boot full,
And ask with a laugh, when that was done,
If the fellow had left the other one!
This wine is as good as we can afford
To the friars who sit at the lower board,
And cannot distinguish bad from good,
And are far better off than if they could,
Being rather the rude disciples of beer,
Than of anything more refined and dear!
Fills the flagon and departs.
FRIAR PACIFICUS transcribing and illuminating.
It is growing dark! Yet one line more,
And then my work for to-day is o'er.
I come again to the name of the Lord!
Ere I that awful name record,
That is spoken so lightly among men,
Let me pause awhile and wash my pen;
Pure from blemish and blot must it be
When it writes that word of mystery!
Thus have I labored on and on,
Nearly through the Gospel of John.
Can it be that from the lips
Of this same gentle Evangelist,
That Christ himself perhaps has kissed,
Came the dread Apocalypse!
It has a very awful look,
As it stands there at the end of the book,
Like the sun in an eclipse.
Ah me! when I think of that vision divine,
Think of writing it, line by line,
I stand in awe of the terrible curse,
Like the trump of doom, in the closing verse!
God forgive me! if ever I
Take aught from the book of that Prophecy,
Lest my part too should he taken away
From the Book of Life on the Judgment Day.
This is well written, though I say it!
I should not be afraid to display it
In open day, on the selfsame shelf
With the writings of St. Thecla herself,
Or of Theodosius, who of old
Wrote the Gospels in letters of gold!
That goodly folio standing yonder,
Without a single blot or blunder,
Would not bear away the palm from mine,
If we should compare them line for line.
There, now, is an initial letter!
Saint Ulric himself never made a better!
Finished down to the leaf and the snail,
Down to the eyes on the peacock's tail!
And now, as I turn the volume over,
And see what lies between cover and cover,
What treasures of art these pages hold,
All ablaze with crimson and gold,
God forgive me! I seem to feel
A certain satisfaction steal
Into my heart, and into my brain,
As if my talent had not lain
Wrapped in a napkin, and all in vain.
Yes, I might almost say to the Lord,
Here is a copy of thy Word,
Written out with much toil and pain;
Take it, O Lord, and let it be
As something I have done for thee!
He looks from the window.
How sweet the air is! how fair the scene!
I wish I had as lovely a green
To paint my landscapes and my leaves!
How the swallows twitter under the eaves!
There, now, there is one in her nest;
I can just catch a glimpse of her head and breast,
And will sketch her thus, in her quiet nook
For the margin of my Gospel book.
He makes a sketch.
I can see no more. Through the valley yonder
A shower is passing; I hear the thunder
Mutter its curses in the air,
The devil's own and only prayer!
The dusty road is brown with rain,
And, speeding on with might and main,
Hitherward rides a gallant train.
They do not parley, they cannot wait,
But hurry in at the convent gate.
What a fair lady! and beside her
What a handsome, graceful, noble rider!
Now she gives him her hand to alight;
They will beg a shelter for the night.
I will go down to the corridor,
And try to see that face once more;
It will do for the face of some beautiful Saint,
Or for one of the Maries I shall paint.
The ABBOT ERNESTUS pacing to and fro.
Slowly, slowly up the wall
Steals the sunshine, steals the shade;
Evening damps begin to fall,
Evening shadows are displayed.
Round me, o'er me, everywhere,
All the sky is grand with clouds,
And athwart the evening air
Wheel the swallows home in crowds.
Shafts of sunshine from the west
Paint the dusky windows red;
Darker shadows, deeper rest,
Underneath and overhead.
Darker, darker, and more wan,
In my breast the shadows fall;
Upward steals the life of man,
As the sunshine from the wall.
From the wall into the sky,
From the roof along the spire;
Ah, the souls of those that die
Are but sunbeams lifted higher.
Enter PRINCE HENRY.
Christ is arisen!
Amen! He is arisen!
His peace be with you!
Here it reigns forever!
The peace of God, that passeth undertanding,
Reigns in these cloisters and these corridors.
Are you Ernestus, Abbot of the convent?
And I Prince Henry of Hoheneck,
Who crave your hospitality to-night.
You are thrice welcome to our humble walls.
You do us honor; and we shall requite it,
I fear, but poorly, entertaining you
With Paschal eggs, and our poor convent wine,
The remnants of our Easter holidays.
How fares it with the holy monks of Hirschau?
Are all things well with them?
All things are well.
A noble convent! I have known it long
By the report of travellers. I now see
Their commendations lag behind the truth.
You lie here in the valley of the Nagold
As in a nest: and the still river, gliding
Along its bed, is like an admonition
How all things pass. Your lands are rich and ample,
And your revenues large. God's benediction
Rests on your convent.
By our charities
We strive to merit it. Our Lord and Master,
When He departed, left us in his will,
As our best legacy on earth, the poor!
These we have always with us; had we not,
Our hearts would grow as hard as are these stones.
If I remember right, the Counts of Calva
Founded your convent.
Even as you say.
And, if I err not, it is very old.
Within these cloisters lie already buried
Twelve holy Abbots. Underneath the flags
On which we stand, the Abbot William lies,
Of blessed memory.
And whose tomb is that,
Which bears the brass escutcheon?
Conrad, a Count of Calva, he who stood
Godfather to our bells.
Your monks are learned
And holy men, I trust.
There are among them
Learned and holy men. Yet in this age
We need another Hildebrand, to shake
And purify us like a mighty wind.
The world is wicked, and sometimes I wonder
God does not lose his patience with it wholly,
And shatter it like glass! Even here, at times,
Within these walls, where all should be at peace,
I have my trials. Time has laid his hand
Upon my heart, gently, not smiting it,
But as a harper lays his open palm
Upon his harp to deaden its vibrations,
Ashes are on my head, and on my lips
Sackcloth, and in my breast a heaviness
And weariness of life, that makes me ready
To say to the dead Abbots under us,
"Make room for me!" Ony I see the dusk
Of evening twilight coming, and have not
Completed half my task; and so at times
The thought of my shortcomings in this life
Falls like a shadow on the life to come.
We must all die, and not the old alone;
The young have no exemption from that doom.
Ah, yes! the young may die, but the old must!
That is the difference.
I have heard much laud
Of your transcribers, Your Scriptorium
Is famous among all; your manuscripts
Praised for their beauty and their excellence.
That is indeed our boast. If you desire it
You shall behold these treasures. And meanwhile
Shall the Refectorarius bestow
Your horses and attendants for the night.
They go in. The Vesper-bell rings.
Vespers: after which the monks retire, a chorister leading an old
monk who is blind.
They are all gone, save one who lingers,
Absorbed in deep and silent prayer.
As if his heart could find no rest,
At times he beats his heaving breast
With clenched and convulsive fingers,
Then lifts them trembling in the air.
A chorister, with golden hair,
Guides hitherward his heavy pace.
Can it be so? Or does my sight
Deceive me in the uncertain light?
Ah no! I recognize that face
Though Time has touched it in his flight,
And changed the auburn hair to white.
It is Count Hugo of the Rhine,
The deadliest foe of all our race,
And hateful unto me and mine!
THE BLIND MONK.
Who is it that doth stand so near
His whispered words I almost hear?
I am Prince Henry of Hoheneck,
And you, Count Hugo of the Rhine!
I know you, and I see the scar,
The brand upon your forehead, shine
And redden like a baleful star!
THE BLIND MONK.
Count Hugo once, but now the wreck
Of what I was. O Hoheneck!
The passionate will, the pride, the wrath
That bore me headlong on my path,
Stumbled and staggered into fear,
And failed me in my mad career,
As a tired steed some evil-doer,
Alone upon a desolate moor,
Bewildered, lost, deserted, blind,
And hearing loud and close behind
The o'ertaking steps of his pursuer.
Then suddenly from the dark there came
A voice that called me by my name,
And said to me, "Kneel down and pray!"
And so my terror passed away,
Passed utterly away forever.
Contrition, penitence, remorse,
Came on me, with o'erwhelming force;
A hope, a longing, an endeavor,
By days of penance and nights of prayer,
To frustrate and defeat despair!
Calm, deep, and still is now my heart,
With tranquil waters overflowed;
A lake whose unseen fountains start,
Where once the hot volcano glowed.
And you, O Prince of Hoheneck!
Have known me in that earlier time,
A man of violence and crime,
Whose passions brooked no curb nor check.
Behold me now, in gentler mood,
One of this holy brotherhood.
Give me your hand; here let me kneel;
Make your reproaches sharp as steel;
Spurn me, and smite me on each cheek;
No violence can harm the meek,
There is no wound Christ cannot heal!
Yes; lift your princely hand, and take
Revenge, if 't is revenge you seek;
Then pardon me, for Jesus' sake!
Arise, Count Hugo! let there be
No further strife nor enmity
Between us twain; we both have erred
Too rash in act, too wroth in word,
From the beginning have we stood
In fierce, defiant attitude,
Each thoughtless of the other's right,
And each reliant on his might.
But now our souls are more subdued;
The hand of God, and not in vain,
Has touched us with the fire of pain.
Let us kneel down and side by side
Pray till our souls are purified,
And pardon will not be denied!
Gaudiolum of Monks at midnight. LUCIFER disguised as a Friar.
FRIAR PAUL sings.
Ave! color vini clari,
Dulcis potus, non amari,
Tua nos inebriari
Not so much noise, my worthy freres,
You'll disturb the Abbot at his prayers.
FRIAR PAUL sings.
O! quam placens in colore!
O! quam fragrans in odore!
O! quam sapidum in ore!
Dulce linguae vinculum!
I should think your tongue had broken its chain!
FRIAR PAUL sings.
Felix venter quem intrabis!
Felix guttur quod rigabis!
Felix os quod tu lavabis!
Et beata labia!
Peace! I say, peace!
Will you never cease!
You will rouse up the Abbot, I tell you again!
No danger! to-night he will let us alone,
As I happen to know he has guests of his own.
Who are they?
A German Prince and his train,
Who arrived here just before the rain.
There is with him a damsel fair to see,
As slender and graceful as a reed!
When she alighted from her steed,
It seemed like a blossom blown from a tree.
None of your pale-faced girls for me!
None of your damsels of high degree!
Come, old fellow, drink down to your peg!
But do not drink any further, I beg!
FRIAR PAUL sings.
In the days of gold,
The days of old,
Crosier of wood
And bishop of gold!