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

Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen)

Maximilian, Roman King

By Count Anton Alexander von Auersperg (Anastasius Grün) (1806–1876)

Translated by J. O. Sargent

“A GOLDEN crown on the worn-out head is a heavy load for me,—

My strong son, Max, the burden will be easier for thee!

The sceptre I wield tremblingly will rest firm in thy hand,”—

The old Emperor was thinking so, and so thought all the land.

’T is Max’s coronation. At Aix, in the minster’s nave,

Flash the mitres and the helmets, the silks and velvets wave;

On his brow the holy ointment inaugurates his reign,

And with steady grasp he handles the sword of Charlemagne.

Behold Cologne’s gray bishop before the altar stand,

Like a true friend and cordial, Old Age now shakes his hand,

Yet firmly and without trembling he places the jewelled crown,

He knows that on a better head priest never set it down.

The organ has ceased its pealing. There follows a collation,

Where sit the lords and princes,—to crown the coronation!

From urns of silver gurgle streams of refreshing wine,

And blue clouds are curling upwards where the golden platters shine.

The Palatine swung the goblet, and rose to a taunting toast:

“To old father Rhine, a bumper! for who, my lords, will boast

That he can show a jewel, in all his broad domain,

Which, like my purple vintage, can fire the heart and brain?”

Then the princes in succession praise the kingdom and the throne,

The old Emperor praises Austria, and each one lands his own;

To the Bishop his great minster the world’s great marvel seems;

And Louis of Bavaria lauds her meadows and blue streams.

From Saxony, Sir Albert says, “In sooth, my treasures shine

As ores of gold and iron, in the dark shafts of the mine;

The gold our women teaches to be refined and pure,

The iron makes our manhood reliable and sure.”

Then spake the Wurtemberger, Count Everhard of the Beard,

“Such jewels in my country have never yet appeared;

But there ’s not in all its borders a wilderness so deep,

That, on a subject’s pillow there, I could not safely sleep.”

Max once in such a contest would have had a word to say;

But now the dark earth buries all the brightness of his day:

In melancholy silence a moment lost he stands.

In his own, then, gently presses the Wurtemberger’s hands.