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


The Pilgrimage to Kevlaar

By Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)

Translated by J. F. Clarke

THE MOTHER stood at the window;

In the chamber lay her son.

“Arise! arise! dear William,

And see the crowd march on.”

“I am so sick, my mother,

I cannot hear or see;

I think of my dead Gretchen,

And my heart is sad in me.”

“Then we will go to Kevlaar,

With book and rosary,

And there God’s gracious mother

Will heal thy heart for thee.”

The banners flutter gayly,

The church bells ring aloud,

Past proud Cologne it marches,—

The singing, praying crowd.

The son, he leads his mother,

And all go marching on;

“All hail to thee, Maria!”

They sing with solemn tone.

God’s mother sits at Kevlaar,

With jewels in her hair;

To-day she wears her diamonds,

For many guests are there.

The sick with votive offerings

Have come from many lands,

To hang upon her altar

Their waxen feet and hands.

For when one offers a waxen hand,

His hand is cured of its wound;

And when one offers a waxen foot,

His foot at once is sound.

Many who came on crutches

Go running and dancing away,

And those whose fingers were stiff as sticks

On the violin can play.

Out of a waxen candle

The mother formed a heart:

“Give this to Holy Mary,

And she will cure thy smart!”

Sadly he took the image,

Went sadly to the shrine,

And, words with tears commingled,

He cried: “O Maid divine!

O Queen of heaven and angels!

Receive my bitter moan.

I dwell with my poor mother,

In a street of fair Cologne;

Where, in three hundred churches,

Men go to sing and pray;

And near to us lived Gretchen,

And she is dead to-day!

I bring this waxen image,

The image of my heart;

Heal thou my bitter sorrow,

And cure my deadly smart!

Do this, and every morning,

Evening, and all day long,

Hail to thee, Blessed Mary,

Shall be my prayer and song!”

The sick son and his mother

Slept in a little room;

Then came the Blessed Virgin,

Soft stepping through the gloom.

She bent above the sick man,

And on his heart she laid

Her gentle hand,—then, smiling,

Passed, like a mist, the Maid.

The mother, in her slumber

Had seen the whole event;

Then wakened, for the frightened dogs

Howled, as the Virgin went.

He lay stretched out before her,

Her son, and he was dead;

And on his thin and pallid cheek

The morning sun burned red.

The mother knew not how she felt,

But bent in peace her head;

“God bless thee! Holy Mother!”

Were all the words she said.