Verse > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow > Complete Poetical Works
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882).  Complete Poetical Works.  1893.
Christus: A Mystery
Part II. The Golden Legend.
V. II. The Devil’s Bridge
PRINCE HENRY and ELSIE crossing with attendants.

THIS bridge is called the Devil’s Bridge.
With a single arch, from ridge to ridge,
It leaps across the terrible chasm
Yawning beneath us, black and deep,
As if, in some convulsive spasm,        5
The summits of the hills had cracked,
And made a road for the cataract
That raves and rages down the steep!
LUCIFER, under the bridge.
Ha! ha!
Never any bridge but this
Could stand across the wild abyss;
All the rest, of wood or stone,
By the Devil’s hand were overthrown.
He toppled crags from the precipice,
And whatsoe’er was built by day        15
In the night was swept away;
None could stand but this alone.
LUCIFER, under the bridge.
Ha! ha!
I showed you in the valley a bowlder
Marked with the imprint of his shoulder;        20
As he was bearing it up this way,
A peasant, passing, cried, “Herr Jé!”
And the Devil dropped it in his fright,
And vanished suddenly out of sight!
LUCIFER, under the bridge.
Ha! ha!
Abbot Giraldus of Einsiedel,
For pilgrims on their way to Rome,
Built this at last, with a single arch,
Under which, on its endless march,
Runs the river, white with foam,        30
Like a thread through the eye of a needle
And the Devil promised to let it stand,
Under compact and condition
That the first living thing which crossed
Should be surrendered into his hand,        35
And be beyond redemption lost.
LUCIFER, under the bridge.
Ha! ha! perdition!
At length, the bridge being all completed,
The Abbot, standing at its head,
Threw across it a loaf of bread,        40
Which a hungry dog sprang after,
And the rocks reëchoed with the peals of laughter
To see the Devil thus defeated!
They pass on.
LUCIFER, under the bridge.
Ha! ha! defeated!
For journeys and for crimes like this        45
I let the bridge stand o’er the abyss!

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