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.
 
Rhine, the River
The Castle of Vautsberg on the Rhine
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
 
(From The Golden Legend)

PRINCE HENRY and ELSIE standing on the terrace at evening. The sound of bells heard in the distance.

PRINCE HENRY
WE are alone. The wedding guests
Ride down the hill, with plumes and cloaks,
And the descending dark invests
The Niederwald, and all the nests
Among its hoar and haunted oaks.        5
 
ELSIE.
What bells are those, that ring so slow,
So mellow, musical, and low?
 
PRINCE HENRY
They are the bells of Geisenheim,
That with their melancholy chime
Ring out the curfew of the sun.        10
 
ELSIE.
Listen, beloved.

PRINCE HENRY
                They are done!
Dear Elsie! many years ago
Those same soft bells at eventide
Rang in the ears of Charlemagne,
As, seated by Fastrada’s side        15
At Ingelheim, in all his pride
He heard their sound with secret pain.
 
ELSIE.
Their voices only speak to me
Of peace and deep tranquillity,
And endless confidence in thee!        20
 
PRINCE HENRY
Thou knowest the story of her ring,
How, when the court went back to Aix,
Fastrada died; and how the king
Sat watching by her night and day,
Till into one of the blue lakes,        25
Which water that delicious land,
They cast the ring drawn from her hand;
And the great monarch sat serene
And sad beside the fated shore,
Nor left the land for ever more.        30
 
ELSIE.
That was true love.

PRINCE HENRY
                    For him the queen
Ne’er did what thou hast done for me.
 
ELSIE.
Wilt thou as fond and faithful be?
Wilt thou so love me after death?
 
PRINCE HENRY
In life’s delight, in death’s dismay,
        35
In storm and sunshine, night and day,
In health, in sickness, in decay,
Here and hereafter, I am thine!
Thou hast Fastrada’s ring. Beneath
The calm, blue waters of thine eyes        40
Deep in thy steadfast soul it lies,
And, undisturbed by this world’s breath,
With magic light its jewels shine!
This golden ring, which thou hast worn
Upon thy finger since the morn,        45
Is but a symbol and a semblance,
An outward fashion, a remembrance,
Of what thou wearest within unseen,
O my Fastrada, O my queen!
Behold! the hill-tops all aglow        50
With purple and with amethyst;
While the whole valley deep below
Is filled, and seems to overflow,
With a fast-rising tide of mist.
The evening air grows damp and chill;        55
Let us go in.

ELSIE.
                Ah, not so soon,
See yonder fire! It is the moon
Slow rising o’er the eastern hill.
It glimmers on the forest tips,
And through the dewy foliage drips        60
In little rivulets of light,
And makes the heart in love with night.
 
PRINCE HENRY
Oft on this terrace, when the day
Was closing, have I stood and gazed,
And seen the landscape fade away,        65
And the white vapors rise and drown
Hamlet and vineyard, tower and town,
While far above the hill-tops blazed.
But then another hand than thine
Was gently held and clasped in mine;        70
Another head upon my breast
Was laid, as thine is now, at rest,
Why dost thou lift those tender eyes
With so much sorrow and surprise?
A minstrel’s, not a maiden’s hand,        75
Was that which in my own was pressed.
A manly form usurped thy place,
A beautiful, but bearded face,
That now is in the Holy Land,
Yet in my memory from afar        80
Is shining on us like a star.
But linger not. For while I speak,
A sheeted spectre white and tall,
The cold mist climbs the castle wall,
And lays his hand upon thy cheek!
They go in.
        85
 
 
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