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

Black Forest, the (Schwarz-Wald)


By Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel (1834–1894)

AN ABBEY in a forest old,

A forest old of pine,

Slowly arose where hills enfold

Not very far from Rhine:

And lower a stream that swept the walls

Fell into silver waterfalls;

Seven slender falls in a gorge of gray,

Where the willowherb was wet with spray;

The rock wore glossy grass like hair,

And a birch-tree shimmered in soft air;

Nor yet stole sweetly over the cool

Wave, as it glided into a pool,

A vesper hymn

From the forest dim,

Nor bells from Allerheiligen!

Flew twenty summers; the monks were there

In a cloistral solitude:

How few that heard the chanted prayer

Divined the worldly feud

’Mong lives monotonous and pale,

Whom weariness would oft assail!

Yet holy-hearted, gentle men

Paced the echoing cloister then,

Learnéd, and kindly to the poor;

Some sorely worn who sought to lure,

Rest to a weary wounded heart;

And where the mountain cleaves apart,

Such an one, ere the day’s decline

Like an illumined vellum fine,

Mused oft upon the sombre green,

Beyond the fluttering watersheen,

Of piny hills, toward the sky

Receding with a softer dye,

And ever with an airier bloom,

Till they are fading to a fume:

Now at eve stole o’er the cool

Wave, as it glided into a pool,

A vesper hymn

From the forest dim,

And bells from Allerheiligen!

Seven hundred summers; the monks are gone:

Their abbey in the wood

Resigns in every mouldered stone

A human brotherhood!


Ivy and vine and roses vie

With old flamboyant tracery:

Lo! the carven corbel where

Hangs a tiny garden fair;

Birds have sown it as they pass

With fairy mosses and with grass;

A wild bee in a dim chapelle,

Hovering near a flowerbell,

With a drowsy murmur droning,

Imitates a priest intoning,

With his lowly eyes intent

Upon the Holy Sacrament!

Wild geranium and fir

Perfume the air, in place of myrrh,

Breathing from a thurifer:

Winds are jubilant, wail, complain,

Where many a blaze of jewel-pane

Heard the tempestuous anthem heave and wane!

Winds intone a wondrous hymn

In yonder aisles of forest dim;

But a frail harebell

Is the only bell,

Hangs now in Allerheiligen!