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


The Wild Huntsman

By Felicia Hemans (1793–1835)

  • It is a popular belief in the Odenwald, that the passing of the Wild Huntsman announces the approach of war. He is supposed to issue with his train from the ruined castle of Rodenstein, and traverse the air to the opposite castle of Schnellerts. It is confidently asserted, that the sound of his phantom horses and hounds was heard by the Duke of Baden before the commencement of the last war in Germany.

  • THY rest was deep at the slumberer’s hour,

    If thou didst not hear the blast

    Of the savage horn from the mountain tower,

    As the Wild Night Huntsman passed,

    And the roar of the stormy chase went by

    Through the dark unquiet sky!

    The stag sprang up from his mossy bed

    When he caught the piercing sounds,

    And the oak-boughs crashed to his antlered head,

    As he flew from the viewless hounds;

    And the falcon soared from her craggy height,

    Away through the rushing night!

    The banner shook on its ancient hold,

    And the pine in its desert place,

    As the cloud and tempest onward rolled

    With the din of the trampling race;

    And the glens were filled with the laugh and shout,

    And the bugle, ringing out!

    From the chieftain’s hand the wine-cup fell,

    At the castle’s festive board,

    And a sudden pause came o’er the swell

    Of the harp’s triumphal chord;

    And the Minnesinger’s thrilling lay

    In the hall died fast away.

    The convent’s chanted rite was stayed,

    And the hermit dropped his beads,

    And a trembling ran through the forest shade,

    At the neigh of the phantom steeds,

    And the church-bells pealed to the rocking blast

    As the Wild Night Huntsman passed.

    The storm hath swept the chase away,

    There is stillness in the sky;

    But the mother looks on her son to-day

    With a troubled heart and eye,

    And the maiden’s brow hath a shade of care

    Midst the gleam of her golden hair!

    The Rhine flows bright; but its waves erelong

    Must hear a voice of war,

    And a clash of spears our hills among,

    And a trumpet from afar;

    And the brave on a bloody turf must lie,—

    For the Huntsman hath gone by!