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


The Count’s Sowing

By Margaret J. Preston (1820–1897)

OFT had the Abbot of Rodenstein,

Piously praying within his stall,

Under the castle by the Rhine,

Grudgingly craved the lands whose line

Bordered his convent garden-wall.

“Long have our fields been far too strait

For the growing needs of the Brotherhood;

These meadows we ’ll have or soon or late,

A part and parcel of our estate,

As sure as there ’s help in the Holy Rood.

“Lightly will matter an oath or twain,

If out of it come such good, I trow,

Vellum we have of an ancient stain,

Whereon we will write our title plain

As dated a hundred years ago.”

So mused the Abbot: and in his zeal

He rated the Count from year to year,

Who heard nor heeded the bold appeal;

For well he reckoned the royal seal

Whereby he could prove his tenure clear.

But worried and worn by long demand,

And weakened by hints of churchly threat,

He promised, at length, to yield the land

Forever and aye beneath his hand,

If one condition were fairly met.

“Now grant me your leave to sow once more,

A single crop in the meadows, mine,

The fief of my fathers heretofore;

And when it is ripe and had in store,

The soil you covet I thence resign.”

Full gladly the Abbot pledged him true,

In the Holy Name, all sealed and signed:

The seed it was sown, and the green blades grew

Fast under his eye; but strange to view

Were the stalks that bent in the waving wind.

One day, as he watched the field, a groan

Brake forth as if born of sudden fears;

“Ach Himmel! what hopes are overthrown!

The crop of acorns the Count hath sown

Will not be ripe for a hundred years!”