Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Geoffry Rudél and Melisanda of Tripoli

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.


Geoffry Rudél and Melisanda of Tripoli

By Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)

Translated by Edgar Alfred Bowring

IN the Château Blay still see we

Tapestry the walls adorning,

Worked by Tripoli’s fair countess’

Own fair hands, no labor scorning.

Her whole soul was woven in it,

And with loving tears and tender

Hallowed is the silken picture,

Which the following scene doth render:

How the Countess saw Rudél

Dying on the strand of ocean,

And the ideal in his features

Traced of all her heart’s emotion.

For the first and last time also

Living saw Rudél and breathing

Her who in his every vision

Intertwining was and wreathing.

Over him the Countess bends her,

Lovingly his form she raises,

And his deadly-pale mouth kisses,

That so sweetly sang her praises.

Ah! the kiss of welcome likewise

Was the kiss of separation,

And they drained the cup of wildest

Joy and deepest desolation.

In the Château Blay at night-time

Comes a rushing, crackling, shaking;

On the tapestry the figures

Suddenly to life are waking.

Troubadour and lady stretch their

Drowsy, ghostlike members yonder,

And from out the wall advancing,

Up and down the hall they wander.

Whispers fond and gentle toying,

Sad-sweet secrets, heart-enthralling,

Posthumous, gallant, soft speeches,

Minnesingers’ times recalling:

“Geoffry! at thy voice’s music

Warmth is in my dead heart glowing,

And I feel once more a glimmer

In the long-quenched embers growing!”

“Melisanda! I awaken

Unto happiness and gladness,

When I see thine eyes; dead only

Is my earthly pain and sadness.”

“Geoffry! once we loved each other

In our dreams; now, cut asunder

By the hand of death, still love we,—

Amor ’t is that wrought this wonder!”

“Melisanda! what are dreams?

What is death? Mere words to scare one!

Truth in love alone e’er find we,

And I love thee, ever fair one!”

“Geoffry! O, how sweet our meetings

In this moonlit chamber nightly,

Now that in the day’s bright sunbeams

I no more shall wander lightly.”

“Melisanda! Foolish dear one!

Thou art light and sun, thou knowest!

Love and joys of May are budding,

Spring is blooming, where thou goest!”

Thus those tender spectres wander

Up and down, and sweet caresses

Interchange, whilst peeps the moonlight

Through the window’s arched recesses.

But at length the rays of morning

Scare away the fond illusion;

To the tapestry retreat they,

On the wall, in shy confusion.