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


In Weimar

By William Allingham (1824–1889)

IN little German Weimar,

With soft green hills enfolded,

Where shady Ilm-brook wanders,

A great man lived and wrote;

In life and art and nature

He conned their “open secret,”

Of men and hours and fortunes

He reverently took note.

Upon a verge of Europe,

Facing the silent sunsets,

And loud Atlantic billows,

For me, too, rose his thought,

Turned to a shape of stars on high

Within the spiritual sky

Of many an upward-gazing eye.

And now this new October,

Within a holy garden,

Mid flowers and trees and crosses,

When dusk begins to fall,—

Where linden leaves are paling,

And poplar leaves are gilded,

And crimson is the wild-vine

That hangs across the wall,

I see the little temple

Wherein, with dust of princes,

The body lies of Goethe,

And may not move at all.

He marked all changes of the year;

He loved to live; he did not fear

The never-broken silence here.

Slow foots the gray old sexton,

The ducal town’s dead-watcher,

Attending day and night time.

A bell that never rings;

The corpse upon the pallet,

A thread to every finger,—

The slightest touch would sound it,

But silence broods and clings.

Beside the room of stillness,

While yet his couch is warmer,

This old man hath his biding,

Therefrom the key he brings.

For mighty mortals, in his day,

He hath unlocked the house of clay,—

For them, as we are wont to say.

By yellow leafy midwalk

Slow foots that aged sexton;

“Ja wohl! I have seen Goethe,

And spoken too with him.”

The lamp with cord he lowers,

And I, by steps descending,

Behold through grated doorway

A chamber chill and dim,—

Gaze on a dark red coffer:

Full fourscore years were counted,

When that grand head lay useless,

And each heroic limb.

Schiller’s dust is close beside,

And Carl August ’s not far,—denied

His chosen place by princely pride.

The day had gloomed and drizzled,

But cleared itself in parting,

The hills were soft and hazy,

Fine colors streaked the west

(Above that distant ocean),

And Weimar stood before me,

A dream of half my lifetime,

A vision for the rest:

The house that fronts the fountain,

The cottage at the woodside,—

Long since I surely knew them,

But still, to see was best.

Town and park for eyes and feet:

But all the inhabitants I greet

Are ghosts, in every walk and street.