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


The Child and Hind

By Thomas Campbell (1777–1844)

COME, maids and matrons, to caress

Wiesbaden’s gentle hind;

And, smiling, deck its glossy neck

With forest flowers entwined.

Your forest flowers are fair to show,

And landscapes to enjoy;

But fairer is your friendly doe

That watched the sleeping boy.

’T was after church—on Ascension day—

When organs ceased to sound,

Wiesbaden’s people crowded gay

The deer-park’s pleasant ground.

There, where Elysian meadows smile,

And noble trees upshoot,

The wild thyme and the camomile

Smell sweetly at their root;

The aspen quivers nervously,

The oak stands stilly bold,

And climbing bindweed hangs on high

His bells of beaten gold.

Nor stops the eye till mountains shine

That bound a spacious view,

Beyond the lordly, lovely Rhine,

In visionary blue.

There monuments of ages dark

Awaken thoughts sublime,

Till, swifter than the steaming bark,

We mount the stream of time.

The ivy there old castles shades

That speak traditions high

Of minstrels, tournaments, crusades,

And mail-clad chivalry.

Here came a twelve years’ married pair,

And with them wandered free

Seven sons and daughters, blooming fair,—

A gladsome sight to see.

Their Wilhelm, little innocent,

The youngest of the seven,

Was beautiful as painters paint

The cherubim of heaven.

By turns he gave his hand, so dear,

To parent, sister, brother;

And each, that he was safe and near,

Confided in the other.

But Wilhelm loved the field-flowers bright,

With love beyond all measure,

And culled them with as keen delight

As misers gather treasure.

Unnoticed, he contrived to glide

Adown a greenwood alley,

By lilies lured, that grew beside

A streamlet in the valley;

And there, where under beech and birch

The rivulet meandered,

He strayed, till neither shout nor search

Could track where he had wandered.

Still louder, with increasing dread,

They called his darling name;

But ’t was like speaking to the dead,—

An echo only came.

Hours passed till evening’s beetle roams,

And blackbird’s songs begin;

Then all went back to happy homes,

Save Wilhelm’s kith and kin.

The night came on,—all others slept

Their cares away till morn;

But, sleepless, all night watched and wept

That family forlorn.

Betimes the town-crier had been sent

With loud bell, up and down;

And told the afflicting accident

Throughout Wiesbaden’s town:

The father, too, ere morning smiled,

Had all his wealth uncoffered;

And to the wight would bring his child

A thousand crowns had offered.

Dear friends, who would have blushed to take

That guerdon from his hand,

Soon joined in groups, for pity’s sake,

The child-exploring band.

The news reached Nassau’s Duke: ere earth

Was gladdened by the lark,

He sent a hundred soldiers forth

To ransack all his park.

Their side-arms glittered through the wood,

With bugle-horns to sound;

Would that on errand half so good

The soldier oft were found!

But though they roused up beast and bird

From many a nest and den,

No signal of success was heard

From all the hundred men.

A second morning’s light expands,

Unfound the infant fair;

And Wilhelm’s household wring their hands,

Abandoned to despair.

But, haply, a poor artisan

Searched ceaselessly, till he

Found safe asleep the little one,

Beneath a beechen tree.

His hand still grasped a bunch of flowers;

And (true, though wondrous) near,

To sentry his reposing hours,

There stood a female deer

Who dipped her horns at all that passed

The spot where Wilhelm lay;

Till force was had to hold her fast,

And bear the boy away.

Hail! sacred love of childhood,—hail!

How sweet it is to trace

Thine instinct in creation’s scale,

Even ’neath the human race.

To this poor wanderer of the wild

Speech, reason, were unknown,—

And yet she watched a sleeping child

As if it were her own;

And thou, Wiesbaden’s artisan,

Restorer of the boy,

Was ever welcomed mortal man

With such a burst of joy?

The father’s ecstasy, the mother’s

Hysteric bosom’s swell,

The sisters’ sobs, the shout of brothers,

I have not power to tell.

The workingman, with shoulders broad,

Took blithely to his wife

The thousand crowns; a pleasant load,

That made him rich for life.

And Nassau’s Duke the favorite took

Into his deer-park’s centre,

To share a field with other pets

Where deer-slayer cannot enter.

There, whilst thou cropp’st thy flowery food,

Each hand shall pat thee kind,

And man shall never spill thy blood,—

Wiesbaden’s gentle hind.