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


The Garden of Roses

By From the Heldenbuch

  • Translated by H. Weber
  • “Chrimhild had a garden of roses before the city seven miles in length, surrounded only by a silken thread; but no one was suffered to enter it without giving battle to the twelve gigantic guardians.”—Weber, Teutonic Romances.

  • ’MONGST the roses Staudenfuss trod with mickle pride;

    With rage and with impatience, his foe he did abide;

    Much he feared no Longobard would dare to meet his blade:

    But a bearded monk lay ready for the fight arrayed.

    “Brother Ilsan, raise thine eyes,” spake Sir Hildebrand,

    “Where, ’mongst the blooming roses, our threatening foe does stand:

    Staudenfuss, the giant hight, born upon the Rhine,

    Up, and shrive him of his sins, holy brother mine!”

    “It ’s I will fight him,” cried the monk; “my blessing shall he gain;

    Never ’mongst the roses shall he wage the fight again.”

    Straight above his coat of mail his friar’s cowl he cast,

    Hid his sword and buckler, and to the garden passed.

    Among the blooming roses leaped the grisly monk:

    With laughter ladies viewed his beard, and his visage brown and shrunk;

    As he trod with angry step o’er the flowery green,

    Many a maiden laughed aloud, and many a knight, I ween.

    Up spake Lady Chrimhild, “Father, leave thine ire!

    Go and chant thy matins with thy brothers in the choir.”

    “Gentle lady,” cried the monk, “roses must I have,

    To deck my dusky cowl in guise right gay and brave.”

    Loudly laughed the giant, when he saw his beard so rough:

    “Should I laughing die to-morrow, I had not laughed enough:

    Has the kemp of Bern sent his fool to fight?”

    “Giant, straight thy hide shall feel that I have my wits aright.”

    Up heaved the monk his heavy fist, and he struck a weighty blow,

    Down among the roses he felled his laughing foe.

    Fiercely cried Sir Staudenfuss, “Thou art the devil’s priest!

    Heavy penance dost thou deal with thy wrinkled fist.”

    Together rushed the uncouth kemps; each drew his trusty blade;

    With heavy tread below their feet they crushed the roses red;

    All the garden flowed with their purple blood;

    Each did strike full sorry blows with their falchions good.

    Cruel looks their eyes did cast, and fearful was their war,

    But the friar cut his enemy o’er the head a bloody scar;

    Deeply carved his trusty sword through the helmet bright:

    Joyful was the hoary monk, for he had won the fight.

    They parted the two champions speedily asunder:

    The friar’s heavy interdict lay the giant under.

    Up arose Queen Chrimhild, to Sir Ilsan has she sped,

    On his bald head did she lay a crown of roses red.

    Through the garden roved he, as in the merry dance;

    A kiss the lady gave him, while madly did he prance.

    “Hear, thou lady fair: more roses must I have;

    To my two-and-fifty brothers I promised chaplets brave.

    “If ye have not kemps to fight, I must rob thy garden fair,

    And right sorry should I be to work thee so much care.”

    “Fear not, the battle shalt thou wage with champions bold and true:

    Crowns and kisses mayst thou gain for thy brothers fifty-two.”


    Up spake the queen, “Monk Ilsan, see your chaplets ready dight;

    Champions two-and-fifty stand waiting for the fight.”

    Ilsan rose, and donned his cowl, and run against them all;

    There the monk has given them many a heavy fall.

    To the ground he felled them, and gave them his benison;

    Beneath the old monk’s falchion lay twelve champions of renown:

    And full of fear and sorrow the other forty were;

    Their right hand held they forth, begged him their lives to spare.

    Rathly ran the monk, to the Queen Chrimhild he hied:

    “Lay thy champions in the grave, and leave thy mickle pride:

    I have dight them for their death; I did shrive them and anoint them:

    Never will they thrive or speed in the task thou didst appoint them.

    “When again thy roses blow, to the feast the monk invite.”

    The Lady Chrimhild gave him two-and-fifty chaplets bright.

    “Nay, Lady Queen, remind thee! By the holy order mine,

    I claim two-and-fifty kisses from your lips so red and fine.”

    And when Chrimhild, the queen, gave him kisses fifty-two,

    With his rough and grisly beard full sore he made her rue,

    That from her lovely cheek ’gan flow the rosy blood:

    The queen was full of sorrow, but the monk it thought him good.