Home  »  Complete Poetical Works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  »  Part II. The Golden Legend. III. I. A Street in Strasburg

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

Christus: A Mystery

Part II. The Golden Legend. III. I. A Street in Strasburg

Night. PRINCE HENRY wandering alone, wrapped in a cloak.

STILL is the night. The sound of feet

Has died away from the empty street,

And like an artisan, bending down

His head on his anvil, the dark town

Sleeps, with a slumber deep and sweet.

Sleepless and restless, I alone,

In the dusk and damp of these walls of stone,

Wander and weep in my remorse!

CRIER OF THE DEAD, ringing a bell.
Wake! wake!

All ye that sleep!

Pray for the Dead!

Pray for the Dead!

Hark! with what accents loud and hoarse

This warder on the walls of death

Sends forth the challenge of his breath!

I see the dead that sleep in the grave!

They rise up and their garments wave,

Dimly and spectral, as they rise,

With the light of another world in their eyes!

Wake! wake!

All ye that sleep!

Pray for the Dead!

Pray for the Dead!

Why for the dead, who are at rest?

Pray for the living, in whose breast

The struggle between right and wrong

Is raging terrible and strong,

As when good angels war with devils!

This is the Master of the Revels,

Who, at Life’s flowing feast, proposes

The health of absent friends, and pledges,

Not in bright goblets crowned with roses,

And tinkling as we touch their edges,

But with his dismal, tinkling bell,

That mocks and mimics their funeral knell!

Wake! wake!

All ye that sleep!

Pray for the Dead!

Pray for the Dead!

Wake not, beloved! be thy sleep

Silent as night is, and as deep!

There walks a sentinel at thy gate

Whose heart is heavy and desolate,

And the heavings of whose bosom number

The respirations of thy slumber,

As if some strange, mysterious fate

Had linked two hearts in one, and mine

Went madly wheeling about thine,

Only with wider and wilder sweep!

CRIER OF THE DEAD, at a distance.
Wake! wake!

All ye that sleep!

Pray for the Dead!

Pray for the Dead!

Lo! with what depth of blackness thrown

Against the clouds, far up the skies

The walls of the cathedral rise,

Like a mysterious grove of stone,

With fitful lights and shadows blending,

As from behind, the moon, ascending,

Lights its dim aisles and paths unknown!

The wind is rising; but the boughs

Rise not and fall not with the wind,

That through their foliage sobs and soughs;

Only the cloudy rack behind,

Drifting onward, wild and ragged,

Gives to each spire and buttress jagged

A seeming motion undefined.

Below on the square, an armàd knight,

Still as a statue and as white,

Sits on his steed, and the moonbeams quiver

Upon the points of his armor bright

As on the ripples of a river.

He lifts the visor from his cheek,

And beckons, and makes as he would speak.

WALTER the Minnesinger.
Friend! can you tell me where alight

Thuringia’s horsemen for the night?

For I have lingered in the rear,

And wander vainly up and down.

I am a stranger in the town,

As thou art; but the voice I hear

Is not a stranger to mine ear.

Thou art Walter of the Vogelweid!

Thou hast guessed rightly; and thy name

Is Henry of Hoheneck!

Ay, the same.

WALTER, embracing him.
Come closer, closer to my side!

What brings thee hither? What potent charm

Has drawn thee from thy German farm

Into the old Alsatian city?

A tale of wonder and of pity!

A wretched man, almost by stealth

Dragging my body to Salern,

In the vain hope and search for health,

And destined never to return.

Already thou hast heard the rest.

But what brings thee, thus armed and dight

In the equipments of a knight?

Dost thou not see upon my breast

The cross of the Crusaders shine?

My pathway leads to Palestine.

Ah, would that way were also mine!

O noble poet! thou whose heart

Is like a nest of singing-birds

Rocked on the topmost bough of life,

Wilt thou, too, from our sky depart,

And in the clangor of the strife

Mingle the music of thy words?

My hopes are high, my heart is proud,

And like a trumpet long and loud,

Thither my thoughts all clang and ring!

My life is in my hand, and lo!

I grasp and bend it as a bow,

And shoot forth from its trembling string

An arrow, that shall be, perchance,

Like the arrow of the Israelite king

Shot from the window toward the east,

That of the Lord’s deliverance!

My life, alas! is what thou seest!

O enviable fate! to be

Strong, beautiful, and armed like thee

With lyre and sword, with song and steel;

A hand to smite, a heart to feel!

Thy heart, thy hand, thy lyre, thy sword,

Thou givest all unto thy Lord;

While I, so mean and abject grown,

Am thinking of myself alone.

Be patient: Time will reinstate

Thy health and fortunes.

’T is too late!

I cannot strive against my fate!

Come with me; for my steed is weary;

Our journey has been long and dreary,

And, dreaming of his stall, he dints

With his impatient hoofs the flints.

I am ashamed, in my disgrace,

To look into that noble face!

To-morrow, Walter, let it be.

To-morrow, at the dawn of day,

I shall again be on my way.

Come with me to the hostelry,

For I have many things to say.

Our journey into Italy

Perchance together we may make;

Wilt thou not do it for my sake?

A sick man’s pace would but impede

Thine eager and impatient speed.

Besides, my pathway leads me round

To Hirschau, in the forest ’s bound,

Where I assemble man and steed,

And all things for my journey’s need.

They go out.

LUCIFER, flying over the city.
Sleep, sleep, O city! till the light

Wake you to sin and crime again,

Whilst on your dreams, like dismal rain,

I scatter downward through the night

My maledictions dark and deep.

I have more martyrs in your walls

Than God has; and they cannot sleep;

They are my bondsmen and my thralls;

Their wretched lives are full of pain,

Wild agonies of nerve and brain;

And every heart-beat, every breath,

Is a convulsion worse than death!

Sleep, sleep, O city! though within

The circuit of your walls there be

No habitation free from sin,

And all its nameless misery;

The aching heart, the aching head,

Grief for the living and the dead,

And foul corruption of the time,

Disease, distress, and want, and woe,

And crimes, and passions that may grow

Until they ripen into crime!