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AFTERNOON IN FEBRUARY.
While through the meadows.
Like fearful shadows,
A funeral train.
The bell is pealing,
And every feeling
Within me responds
To the dismal knell ;
Shadows are trailing,
My heart is bewailing
And tolling within
Like a funeral bell.
WALTER VON DER VOGELWEID. * VOGELWEID the Winnesinger,
They renewed the War of Wartburg, When he left this world of ours, Which the bard had fought before. Laid his body in the cloister,
There they sang their merry carols, Under Würtzburg's minster towers.
Sing their lauels on every side ; And he gave the monks his treasures, And the name their voices uttered Gave them all with this behest :
Was the name of Vogelweid. They should feed the birds at noontide
Till at length the portly abbot Daily on his place of rest;
| Murmured, “Why this waste of food Saying, “From these wandering minstrels Be it changed to loaves henceforward I have learned the art of song;
For our fasting brotherhood.” Let me now repay the lessons
Then in vain o'er tower and turret, They have taught so well and long."
Foam the walls and woodland nests, Thus the bard of love departed ;
When the ininster bell rang noontide, And, fulfilling his desire,
Gathered the unwelcome guests. On his tomb the birds were feasted
Then in vain, with cries discordant, By the children of the choir.
Clamorous round the Gothic spire, Day by day, o'er tower and turret, Screamed the feathered Minnesingers In foul weather and in fair,
For the children of the choir. Day by day, in vaster numbers,
Time has long effaced the inscriptions Flocked the poets of the air.
On the cloister's funeral stones, On the tree whose heavy branches And tradition only tells us Overshadowed all the place,
Where repose the poet's bones. On the pavement, on the tombstone,
But around the vast cathedral,
By sweet echoes multiplied,
And the name of Vogelweid.
* Walter von der Vogelweid, or Bird-Meadow, was ono of the principal Minne. singers of the thirteenth century. He triumphed over Heinrich von Ofterdingen in
" War of that poetic contest at Wartburg Castle, known in literary history as the Wartburg."
And resembles sorrow only
THE DAY IS DONE.
And to-night I long for rest.
Read from some humbler poet, From an eagle in his flight.
Whose songs gushed from his heart, I see the lights of the village
As showers from the clouds of summer, Gleam through the rain and the mist, Or tears from the eyelids start; And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me, That my soul cannot resist :
Who, through long days of labour,
And nights devoid of ease, A feeling of sadness and longing,
Still heard in his soul the music That is not akin to pain,
Of wonderful melodies. As the mist resembles the rain.
Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.
Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
The beauty of thy voice.
And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day, For, like strains of martial music, Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, Their mighty thoughts suggest
| And as silently steal away.
Come, read to me some poem,
From the tumbling surf, that buries From the far-off isles enchanted,
Heaven has planted
With the golden fruit of Truth ; And from wrecks of ships, and drifting From the flashing surf, whose vision Spars, uplifting
Gleams Elysian On the desolate, rainy seas ;
In the tropic clime of Youth ; Ever drifting, drifting, drifting
From the strong Will and the Endeavour On the shifting
That for ever Currents of the restless main ;
Wrestle with the tides of Fate ; Till in sheltered coves, and reaches From the wreck of Hopes far-scattered, Of sandy beaches,
Tempest-shattered, All have found repose again.
Floating waste and desolate ;-
Ever drifting, drifting, drifting
On the shifting
Currents of the restless heart; From each cave and rocky fastness, Till at length in books recorded, In its vastness,
They, like hoarded Floats some fragment of a song:
Household words, no more depart.
INSCRIPTION FOR AN ANTIQUE PITCHER.
Come, old friend ! sit down and listen !
From the pitcher placed between us, How the waters laugh and glisten
In the head of old Silenus ! Old Silenus, bloated, drunken,
Led by his inebriate Satyrs; On his breast his head is sunken,
Vacantly he leers and chatters. Fauns with youthful Bacchus follow ;
Ivy crowns that brow supernal As the forehead of Apollo,
And possessing youth eternal. Round about him, fair Bacchantes,
Bearing cymbals, flutes, and thyrses, Wild from Naxian groves, or Zante's
Vineyards, sing delirious verses. Thus he won, through all the nations,
Bloodless victories, and the farmer Bore, as trophies and oblations,
Vines for banners, ploughs for armour. Judged by no o'er-zealous rigour,
Much this mystic throng expresses : Bacchus was the type of vigour,
And Silenus of excesses.
These are ancient ethnic revels,
Of a faith long since forsaken ;
Frighten mortals wine-o'ertaken.
Point the rods of fortune-tellers;
Not in flasks, and casks and cellars. Claudius, though he sang of flagons
And huge flagons filled with Rhenish,
Never would his own replenish.
Bacchus in the Tuscan valleys,
In his dithyrambic sallies.
Wreathed about with classic fables;
Light upon Lucullus' tables.
As it passes thus between us,
In the head of old Silenus !
THE OLD CLOCK ON THE STAIRS. [L'éternité est une pendule, dont le balancier dit et redit sans cesse ces deux mots seulement, dans le silence des tombeaux :
Toujours! jamais ! Jamais ! toujours "-
JacQUES BRID AINE]
Across its an
By day its
SOMEWHAT back from the village street
But, like the skeleton at the feast,
That warning timepiece never ceased, tique portico
“For ever -- never !
Never-for ever !"
There groups of merry children played, " For ever--never!
There youths and maidens dreaming
O precious hours ! O golden prime,
An affluence of love and time !
Those hours the ancient timepiece told, -
“For ever- never!
Never-for ever !"
From that chamber, clothed in white,
The bride came forth on her wedding night;
There, in that silent room below,
And in the hush that followed the prayer,
“For ever- never !
All are scattered now and fied,
Some are married, some are dead;
And when I ask, with throbs of pain,
The ancient timepiece makes reply,
* For ever--never !
Never-for ever !"
Never here, for ever there,
Where all parting, pain and care,
And death and time shall disappear, -
For ever there, but never here !
The horologe of Eternity
Sayeth this incessantly,-
“For ever-never !
With banners, by great gales incessant fanned,
And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain!
Upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand
Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain.
So long beneath the heaven's o’erhanging eaves ;
Thy steps are by the farmer's prayers attended;
And, following thee, in thy ovation splendid,
By self-devotion and by self-restraint,
On unknown errands of the Paraclete,
Fail of the nimbus which the artists paint
And are in their completeness incomplete !
The lily of Florence blossoming in stone,-
A vision, a delight, and a desire,
That in the night of ages bloomed alone,
But wanting still the glory of the spire. * Charlemagne may be called by pre-eminence the monarch of farmers. According to the German tradition, in seasons of great abundance bis spirit crosses the Rhine on a golden bridge at Lingen, and blesses the cornfields and the vineyards.