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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.


From the German. The Black Knight

  • (Der Schwarze Ritter)
    By Johann Ludwig Uhland

  • ’T WAS Pentecost, the Feast of Gladness,

    When woods and fields put off all sadness,

    Thus began the King and spake:

    “So from the halls

    Of ancient Hofburg’s walls,

    A luxuriant Spring shall break.”

    Drums and trumpets echo loudly,

    Wave the crimson banners proudly,

    From balcony the King looked on;

    In the play of spears,

    Fell all the cavaliers,

    Before the monarch’s stalwart son.

    To the barrier of the fight

    Rode at last a sable Knight.

    “Sir Knight! your name and scutcheon, say!”

    “Should I speak it here,

    Ye would stand aghast with fear;

    I am a Prince of mighty sway!”

    When he rode into the lists,

    The arch of heaven grew black with mists,

    And the castle’ gan to rock;

    At the first blow,

    Fell the youth from saddle-bow,

    Hardly rises from the shock.

    Pipe and viol call the dances,

    Torch-light through the high halls glances;

    Waves a mighty shadow in;

    With manner bland

    Doth ask the maiden’s hand,

    Doth with her the dance begin.

    Danced in sable iron sark,

    Danced a measure weird and dark,

    Coldly clasped her limbs around;

    From breast and hair

    Down fall from her the fair

    Flowerets, faded, to the ground.

    To the sumptuous banquet came

    Every Knight and every Dame;

    ’Twixt son and daughter all distraught,

    With mournful mind

    The ancient King reclined,

    Gazed at them in silent thought.

    Pale the children both did look,

    But the guest a beaker took:

    “Golden wine will make you whole!”

    The children drank,

    Gave many a courteous thank:

    “Oh, that draught was very cool!”

    Each the father’s breast embraces,

    Son and daughter; and their faces

    Colorless grow utterly;

    Whichever way

    Looks the fear-struck father gray,

    He beholds his children die.

    “Woe! the blessed children both

    Takest thou in the joy of youth;

    Take me, too, the joyless father!”

    Spake the grim Guest,

    From his hollow, cavernous breast:

    “Roses in the spring I gather!”