Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Germany
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Germany: Vols. XVII–XVIII.  1876–79.
 
Potsdam
Potsdam and Sansouci
Arthur von Rapp
 
POTSDAM, thou cradle of a line of kings,
Quiet in thy greatness, a historic crown
Rests well upon thee and on Sansouci,
The home of him whom sternly gained Renown
Calls “Great” forever. Let us backward turn        5
The page of history in our mental eye
From the imperial glory of to-day,
And rest upon a bygone century.
 
Now see we, walking in the royal park
Of his loved Sansouci, a bended form,        10
And though the fire of youth may yet flash forth
Defiance from his eye ’gainst every storm,
Yet is he old. His work is nearly done.
A youthful prince 1 attentive by his side,
His favorite, destined to be also great,        15
He is in all the aged monarch’s pride.
 
Thus walking side by side, “Old Fritz” has plied
The prince with questions ’bout his daily task
Of lessons. Quiet pride does rest upon
The old king’s face. He may no question ask        20
But what is answered promptly, truthfully,
With grace and ken beyond the prince’s years;
And the king knows that Prussia in such hands,
Though all around be dark, need have no fears.
 
They stand, to part, beside the obelisk        25
That guards the entrance. “Look!” the monarch says;
“Here is a lesson. Sermons rest in stones:
This obelisk does speak from point to base.
Its airy form may reach into the blue,
But from below comes all its strength and power.        30
Thus with your people. Their love be your strength
In future. Farewell! Don’t forget this hour!”
 
And he remembered! When the wings of Time
Pressed Prussia’s crown upon the prince’s head,
King Frederic William, third one of his name,        35
Fellow he proved of the illustrious dead
In wisdom and in justice. Though for years
His ashes mingle with ancestral dust,
The grateful hearts of his loved people keep
His memory green. Still is he named: “The Just!”        40
 
Note 1. The prince was the grandnephew of Frederick the Great, and a son of Frederick William the Second. [back]
 
 
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