Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  A Jewish Family

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Germany: Vols. XVII–XVIII. 1876–79.

St. Goar

A Jewish Family

By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

In a Small Valley Opposite St. Goar, upon the Rhine

GENIUS of Raphael! if thy wings

Might bear thee to this glen,

With faithful memory left of things

To pencil dear and pen,

Thou wouldst forego the neighboring Rhine,

And all his majesty,

A studious forehead to incline

O’er this poor family.

The mother, her thou must have seen,

In spirit, ere she came

To dwell those rifted rocks between,

Or found on earth a name;

An image, too, of that sweet boy,

Thy inspirations give,—

Of playfulness and love and joy,

Predestined here to live.

Downcast, or shooting glances far,

How beautiful his eyes,

That blend the nature of the star

With that of summer skies!

I speak as if of sense beguiled;

Uncounted months are gone,

Yet am I with that Jewish child,

That exquisite Saint John.

I see the dark-brown curls, the brow,

The smooth, transparent skin,

Refined, as with intent to show

The holiness within;

The grace of parting infancy

By blushes yet untamed;

Age faithful to the mother’s knee,

Nor of her arms ashamed.

Two lovely sisters, still and sweet

As flowers, stand side by side;

Their soul-subduing looks might cheat

The Christian of his pride;

Such beauty hath the Eternal poured

Upon them not forlorn,

Though of a lineage once abhorred,

Nor yet redeemed from scorn.

Mysterious safeguard, that, in spite

Of poverty and wrong,

Doth here preserve a living light,

From Hebrew fountains sprung;

That gives this ragged group to cast

Around the dell a gleam

Of Palestine, of glory past,

And proud Jerusalem!