Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Knight Lohengrin’s Narrative of the Grail
The Legend of the Holy Grail
From Richard Wagner’s Poem for his Opera of ‘Lohengrin’: Literal version in the metre of the original, translated by Edward Irenæus Prime-Stevenson

IN a far land to which your steps attain not,
A castle lies which Monsalvat is named;
A shining Temple standeth in its circuit,
So costly built that earth naught like it knows:
Therein’s a Cup, of wonder-doing virtue,        5
All guarded as ’twere Holiness itself—
Its care and service mortals’ highest duty—
Thither to us by host angelic brought;
Each several year a dove from Heaven descendeth,
Once more new strength imparting to its charm.        10
The Grail ’tis called; and Faith most pure, most blessed,
Its presence on our Fellowship bestows.
Whoever to its service shall be summoned,
With superhuman power is armed straightway.
On him falls useless every spell of Evil,        15
Before him flees the dark of Death itself.
He whom this Grail shall send to lands full distant,
For Right’s defense a warrior to strive,
Not even from him its power divine is wanting
If all unknown he as its champion bides;        20
So high and holy is its latent blessing
That it unveiled must shun the eye profane.
But of its Knight beware a doubt to cherish;—
Once known to you, he straightway must depart.
Hark ye then, how your question I shall answer:        25
I by the Holy Grail to you was summoned;
My father, Parsifal, his crown is wearing,—
His knight am I, and Lohengrin my name.

  [The following twenty lines of text completing Lohengrin’s story were set to music by the composer; but are omitted from the usual printed textbooks and scores, and are rarely met.]
And now how came I hither, further listen:
Appeal lamenting on the air was borne;        30
In the Grail-Temple forthwith understood we
That far away, distressful was a maid.
While we the Grail its counsel were imploring
Whereto a champion should from us be sped,
Lo, on the stream a floating swan beheld we,        35
And to us waiting did he bring a skiff.
My father, he who knew that swan’s true nature,
Grail-counseled, to our service it received
(Since who shall serve the Grail a single twelvemonth,
From such must needs depart dark magic’s curse);        40
And next, it forth should tranquilly convey me
Whither the call for help afar had come.
Since through the Grail to combat was I chosen,
Thus filled with courage did I say farewell.
Through wandering streams and surging waves of ocean        45
The faithful swan has brought me toward my goal,
Until among ye, on the shore, he drew me
Where in the sight of God ye saw me land.

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