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


From the German. The Legend of the Crossbill

  • (Der Kreuzschnabel, No. 3)
    By Julius Mosen

  • ON the cross the dying Saviour

    Heavenward lifts his eyelids calm,

    Feels, but scarcely feels, a trembling

    In his pierced and bleeding palm.

    And by all the world forsaken,

    Sees He how with zealous care

    At the ruthless nail of iron

    A little bird is striving there.

    Stained with blood and never tiring,

    With its beak it doth not cease,

    From the cross ’t would free the Saviour,

    Its Creator’s Son release.

    And the Saviour speaks in mildness:

    “Blest be thou of all the good!

    Bear, as token of this moment,

    Marks of blood and holy rood!”

    And that bird is called the crossbill;

    Covered all with blood so clear,

    In the groves of pine it singeth

    Songs, like legends, strange to hear.