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


The Busts of Goethe and Schiller

By William Allen Butler (1825–1902)

THIS is Goethe, with a forehead

Like the fabled front of Jove;

In its massive lines the tokens

More of majesty than love.

This is Schiller, in whose features,

With their passionate calm regard,

We behold the true ideal

Of the high heroic bard,

Whom the inward world of feeling

And the outward world of sense

To the endless labor summon,

And the endless recompense.

These are they, sublime and silent,

From whose living lips have rung

Words to be remembered ever

In the noble German tongue;

Thoughts whose inspiration, kindling

Into loftiest speech or song,

Still through all the listening ages

Pours its torrent swift and strong.

As to-day in sculptured marble

Side by side the poets stand,

So they stood in life’s great struggle

Side by side and hand to hand,

In the ancient German city,

Dowered with many a deathless name,

Where they dwelt and toiled together,

Sharing each the other’s fame:

One till evening’s lengthening shadows

Gently stilled his faltering lips,

But the other’s sun at noonday

Shrouded in a swift eclipse.

There their names are household treasures,

And the simplest child you meet

Guides you where the house of Goethe

Fronts upon the quiet street;

And, hard by, the modest mansion

Where full many a heart has felt

Memories uncounted clustering

Round the words “Here Schiller dwelt.”

In the churchyard both are buried,

Straight beyond the narrow gate,

In the mausoleum sleeping

With Duke Charles in sculptured state.

For the monarch loved the poets,

Called them to him from afar,—

Wooed them near his court to linger,

And the planets sought the star.

He, his larger gifts of fortune

With their larger fame to blend,

Living, counted it an honor

That they named him as their friend;

Dreading to be all-forgotten,

Still their greatness to divide,

Dying, prayed to have his poets

Buried one on either side.

But this suited not the gold-laced

Ushers of the royal tomb,

Where the princely House of Weimar

Slumbered in majestic gloom.

So they ranged the coffins justly,

Each with fitting rank and stamp,

And with shows of court precedence

Mocked the grave’s sepulchral damp.

Fitly now the clownish sexton

Narrow courtier-rules rebukes;

First he shows the grave of Goethe,

Schiller’s next, and last—the Duke’s.

Vainly midst these truthful shadows

Pride would flaunt her painted wing;

Here the monarch waits in silence,

And the poet is the king!