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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV. 1876–79.

Belgium: Bruges

The Nuptials of Maximilian and Mary of Burgundy

By Count Anton Alexander von Auersperg (Anastasius Grün) (1806–1876)

Translated by J. O. Sargent

AT Bruges in the minster, on columns and on shrines,

From thousand candelabras, a wondrous radiance shines:

Bands of priests in splendid garments defile beneath its arches,

While without a lordly company to the Cathedral marches.

Borne loftily before them the double banner streams,

Where Burgundy’s gold lily-wreath on Austria’s purple gleams:

Very strong is the alliance of such people and such lands,

But the wreath to which the lovers turn twines firmer, stronger bands.

From seventy lands a herald bears the banner of each land,

Of knights in shining armor, a noble blooming band;

They ride in earnest silence, by God’s breath circled round,

While the horses stamp and neigh and the rattling arms resound.

White as the foam of fountains, many hundred horses prance,

On helmets and on lances the green sprays float and dance;

Many hundred armors glisten, as the snow in moonlight gleams,

And harp-strings make a music, like the ripples of the streams.

If a sea-gull, sweeping over it, in the air should chance to be,

He would dive to bathe his plumage in such a silver sea;

The nightingale whose threnody from yon balcony trills

Would think the space beneath him a grove of laurel fills.


In the house of God his blessing the gray-haired Bishop spake,

And the plain gold rings of wedlock, bride and bridegroom give and take;

Then snapped the ring of one of them,—it boded nothing good,—

And the light of an acolyte went out who at the altar stood.

With myriad stars the canopy of heaven was lit that night,

But the lights by far outnumbered them that made all Bruges bright,

And if you cannot read the scroll that God wrote in the sky,

You may read on the town-house written a plain transparency:

“In marriage, happy Austria, not in arms thy fortunes be;

Mars gives to others kingdoms that Venus gives to thee.”

Max and Mary’s names thereunder inscribed in colored light,

Did they see them? History tells not if they saw the scroll that night.