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.
 
Kyffhäuser Mountains
Barbarossa’s First Awakening
Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810–1876)
 
Translated by J. McCarthy

STEEPED in the crimson sunlight
  Reposed the golden plain,
As if the yellow cornfields
  Were bathed in blood-red rain;
Full darkly loomed Kyffhäuser        5
  Through fog which slowly broke,
When first the spellbound Kaiser
  From his long sleep awoke.
 
A look of royal anger
  On his vassals round he threw:        10
“I slept in deepest slumber,
  Who dared such deed to do?
Who, braving all my fury,
  From sleep has dragged me so,
And called in hollow accents,        15
  ‘Woe, Hohenstaufen, woe!’
 
“Who caused that sudden clashing
  Of steel on steel to rise?
Who held the gaudy banners
  Before my startled eyes?        20
Who has my dreams distracted
  With fleeting forms of air,
And blood-red ensigns floating
  On a wide market-square?
 
“There I beheld a monarch,—        25
  High on a throne he sate;
He glared upon a scaffold
  With eyes of wrath and hate.
The black-draped scaffold towered
  Midst crowding heads and spears,        30
And on its height were standing
  Two youths of tender years.
 
“Beside them on the scaffold,
  Boding a deed of blood,
A grisly grim attendant,        35
  The headsman, waiting stood.
He stood in cap of scarlet
  And in a scarlet frock;
He leaned upon his weapon,
  Before him was the block!        40
 
“Sudden the shrilly clarions
  Rang out with murderous glee;
Hear you the king’s commandment?
  His signal do you see?
One captive flung his gauntlet        45
  Among the crowd below,
Which murmured like the ocean
  When the hoarse storm-winds blow!
 
“His head that first pale victim
  Lays firm upon the oak;        50
See, from his slender body
  ’T is severed with a stroke!
Far spouts the blood’s red fountain,
  The king gives sign anew,
And ghastly smiles, as quickly        55
  The second’s head falls too!
 
“Lo! where the heads are rolling
  On mine own shattered shield,—
Who has this fearful vision,
  To scare my sleep, revealed?        60
Who, braving all my fury,
  From slumber dragged me so,
And called in hollow accents,
  ‘Woe, Hohenstaufen, woe!’”
 
The dwarfs, all pale and trembling,        65
  Bow down before the king,—
“We know not who, O monarch,
  Would dare do such a thing—”
That very time at Naples
  The young Conradin stood        70
With Frederic of Suabia
  On a scaffold dripping blood!
 
’T was then the bearded monarch
  Upstarted from his place;
Saw dimly in Kyffhäuser        75
  The end of his own race;
He growled in angry wonder,
  And bent again his head,
A century had nearly
  Of his long slumber fled.        80
 
 
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