Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Greeting of Kynast

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

Kynast, the Castle

The Greeting of Kynast

By Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866)

Translated by C. T. Brooks

SHE said: This narrow chamber is not for me the place,

Said the Lady Kunigunde of Kynast!

’T is pleasanter on horseback, I ’ll hie me to the chase,

Said the Lady Kunigunde!

She said: The knight who weds me, I do require of him,

Said the Lady Kunigunde of Kynast!

To gallop round the Kynast and break nor neck nor limb.

A noble knight came forward and galloped round the wall;

The Lady Kunigunde of Kynast,

The lady, without lifting a finger, saw him fall.

And yet another galloped around the battlement;

The Lady Kunigunde,

The lady saw him tumble, yet did she not relent.

And rider after rider spurred round his snorting horse;

The Lady Kunigunde

Saw him vanish o’er the rampart, and never felt remorse.

Long time the folly lasted, then came not rider more;

The Lady Kunigunde,

They would not ride to win her, the trial was too sore.

She stood upon her towers, she looked upon the land,

The Lady Kunigunde of Kynast:

I ’m all alone at home here, will no one seek my hand?

Is there none will ride to win me, to win me for his bride,

The Lady Kunigunde of Kynast?

O fie, the paltry rider who dreads the bridal ride!

Then out and spake from Thüringen the Landgrave Adelbert:

The Lady Kunigunde of Kynast!

Well may the haughty damsel her worthiness assert.

He trains his horse to gallop on narrow walls of stone;

The Lady Kunigunde of Kynast!

The lady shall not see us break neck or limb or bone.

See here, O noble lady, I ’m he that dares the ride!

The Lady Kunigunde,

She looks in thoughtful silence, to see him sit in pride.

She saw him now make ready, then trembled she and sighed,

The Lady Kunigunde:

Woe ’s me that I so fearful have made the bridal ride!

Then rode he round the Kynast; her face she turned away,

The Lady Kunigunde:

Woe ’s me, the knight is riding down to his grave to-day!

He rides around the Kynast, right round the narrow wall;

The Lady Kunigunde!

She cannot stir for terror her lily hand at all.

He rides around the Kynast, clear round the battlement;

The Lady Kunigunde!

As if a breath might kill him, she held her breath suspent.

He rode around the Kynast and straight to her rode he;

Said the Lady Kunigunde of Kynast:

Thanks be to God in heaven, who gave thy life to thee!

Thanks be to God that into thy grave thou didst not ride!

Said the Lady Kunigunde:

Come down from off thy horse now, O knight, unto thy bride!

Then spake the noble rider, and greeted, as he sate,

The Lady Kunigunde:

O trust a knight for horsemanship! well have I taught thee that.

Now wait till comes another who can the same thing do,

O Lady Kunigunde of Kynast!

I ’ve wife and child already, can be no spouse for you.

He gave his steed the spur, now; rode back the way he came;

The Lady Kunigunde!

The lady saw him vanish, she swooned with scorn and shame.

And she remains a virgin, her pride had such a fall,

The Lady Kunigunde!

Changed to a wooden image she stands in sight of all.

An image, like a hedgehog, with spines for hair, is now

The Lady Kunigunde of Kynast!

The stranger has to kiss it, who climbs the Kynast’s brow.

We bring it him to kiss it; and if it shocks his pride,

The Lady Kunigunde of Kynast!

He must pay down his forfeit, who will not kiss the bride,

The Lady Kunigunde!