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

Appendix: Bacharach

Bacharach Wine

By Margaret J. Preston (1820–1897)

(A.D. 1494)

“WHY should they crown me Emperor? Why

Summon me hither from merry cheer

With my life-long wassailers? Surely I,

Prince of good fellows, am happier here.

I smother to think of the cramping weight

Of Charlemagne’s iron about my brow:

My own Bohemia’s crown and state

Are more than enough for me, I vow,

When I ’d cast off care, and drink my full

Of wine and wit at the Königstuhl.

“I wonder if Charlemagne ever drank

A tankard of Assmanshausen? Nay,

If he had, his empire never would rank

As it does with the royalest realms to-day.

For the goddess that laughs within the cup

Had wiled and won him from blood and war,

And shown, as he drained her long draughts up,

There was something better worth living for

Than kingcraft, keeping his gruff brow sad;

(—I wish from my very soul she had!)

“Consider now, Rupert! With such a realm

As that to govern from year to year;

The brain must be steady that holds the helm,

The senses alert and quick and clear.

And how could I dare to jest and drink,

Till brain grew dizzy and sense a wrack?

For I never would be the man, I think,

To shirk the burden once on my back:

But what ’s an Imperial name, I pray,

To the madness of drinking the soul away?

“This Assmanshausen! Why, I declare,

There never was such heart-staying wine,

So brimmed with the sky, the sun, the air,

Vintaged along our lordly Rhine—”

“I challenge thy word,” Prince Rupert said;

“I know a better by sevenfold,

With a century’s warp of cobwebs spread

Over the barrels mossed and old.

He never has been to heaven and back,

Who has not drunken of Bacharach.”

“Now, by my sceptre,” roared the king,

“Fetch me the wine thus held so high,

And if it can twice the rapture bring,

That slumbers in Assmanshausen,—why,

Here on the spot I ’ll lay thee down,

(Inly thou cravest it now, I trow,)

Plighted and pledged, the Iron crown:

Hasten!—a flagon!—let me know

At once if this Bacharach can be

More than an Emperor’s state to me.”

The wine was brought him,—the bowls were filled,

And they drank deep into the winter night,

Till the heart of the new-made Emperor thrilled,

And tingled with such divine delight,

That he cried: “Prince Rupert, if thou wilt give

Three butts a year of Bacharach wine,

Just such as this, through the years I live,

Then Charlemagne’s sceptre shall be thine.”

Prince Rupert sware: For his royal guest,

Freedom and Bacharach wine were best.