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


Luther in the Wartburg

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

SAFE in this Wartburg tower I stand

Where God hath led me by the hand,

And look down, with a heart at ease,

Over the pleasant neighborhoods,

Over the vast Thuringian Woods,

With flash of river, and gloom of trees,

With castles crowning the dizzy heights,

And farms and pastoral delights,

And the morning pouring everywhere

Its golden glory on the air.

Safe, yes, safe am I here at last,

Safe from the overwhelming blast

Of the mouths of Hell, that followed me fast,

And the howling demons of despair

That hunted me like a beast to his lair.


Yesterday in an idle mood,

Hunting with others in the wood,

I did not pass the hours in vain,

For in the very heart of all

The joyous tumult raised around,

Shouting of men, and baying of hound,

And the bugle’s blithe and cheery call,

And echoes answering back again,

From crags of the distant mountain chain,

In the very heart of this I found

A mystery of grief and pain.

It was an image of the power

Of Satan, hunting the world about,

With his nets and traps and well-trained dogs,

His bishops and priests and theologues,

And all the rest of the rabble rout,

Seeking whom he may devour!

Enough have I had of hunting hares,

Enough of these hours of idle mirth,

Enough of nets and traps and gins!

The only hunting of any worth

Is where I can pierce with javelins

The cunning foxes and wolves and bears,

The whole iniquitous troop of beasts,

The Roman Pope and the Roman priests

That sorely infest and afflict the earth!

Ye nuns, ye singing birds of the air!

The fowler hath caught you in his snare,

And keeps you safe in his gilded cage,

Singing the song that never tires,

To lure down others from their nests;

How ye flutter and beat your breasts,

Warm and soft with young desires,

Against the cruel pitiless wires,

Reclaiming your lost heritage!

Behold! a hand unbars the door,

Ye shall be captives held no more.