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

Neckar, the River

The Neckar

By Louisa Stuart Costello (1799–1870)

(From The Lay of the Stork)

SUNSET! on the plain that spreads

Onward to the glowing Rhine:

Sunset on the purple heads

Of Alsatia’s mountain line:

Red sunset on the vines that creep

Far along the rocky steep,

Till those giant forests rise

Dark against the clear, broad skies,

All streaked and flecked with sunset’s glow,

Down to the river’s banks below.

Silver Neckar! crimsoned o’er

With the beam, from shore to shore,

Silver Neckar! devious still,

Doubling, turning at thy will,

Circling through the meadows’ maze,

Joyous in the golden blaze,

Till thy waters, full and free,

Swell the Rhine’s majestic sea.

Odenwald! in misty gray

Fade thy crowding heights away:

But fair Heidelberg stands out,

All her ruins girt about

With a diadem of gold,

Such as crowned her once of old,

When two royal lovers stood,

Gazing from this charméd grove,

Blest in tender solitude,

Till ambition conquered love.

Velleda! prophetess, whose fane

Gave place to these abodes of joy,

Didst thou foretell—alas!—in vain!

What fate their glories should destroy,

And this fair temple be as lone,

As desolate, as erst thy own?

Ah! in the changes wrought by Time,

Whose sullen waves roll fiercely on,

What boots, amidst his course sublime,

A race of kings,—or prophets,—gone!