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SONGS.

TO AN OLD DANISH SONG-BOOK. WELCOME, my old friend,

Welcome to a foreign fireside, While the sullen gales of autumn Shake the windows.

The ungrateful world
Has, it seems, dealt harshly with thee,
Since, beneath the skies of Denmark,
First I met thee.

There are marks of age,
There are thumb-marks on thy margin,
Made by hands that clasped thee rudely,
At the alehouse.

Soiled and dull thou art;
Yellow are thy time-worn pages,
As the russet, rain-molested
Leaves of autumn.

Thou art stained with wine
Scattered from hilarious goblets,
As the leaves with the libations
Of Olympus.

I

Yet dost thou recall
Days departed, half-forgotten,
When in dreamy youth I wandered
By the Baltic,-
When I paused to hear
The old ballad of King Christian,
Shouted from suburban taverns
In the twilight.
Thou recallest bards,
Who, in solitary chambers
And with hearts by passion wasted,
Wrote thy pages.
Thou recallest homes
Where thy songs of love and friendship
Made the gloomy Northern winter
Bright as summer.
Once some ancient Scald,
In his bleak, ancestral Iceland,
Chanted staves of these old ballads
To the Vikings.
Once in Elsinore,
At the court of old King Hamlet,
Yorick and his boon companions
Sang these ditties.
Once Prince Frederick's Guard
Sang them in their smoky barracks;-
Suddenly the English cannon
Joined the chorus!
Peasants in the field,
Sailors on the roaring ocean,
Students, tradesmen, pale mechanics,
All have sung them.

Thou hast been their friend;
They, alas, have left thee friendless !
Yet at least by one warm fireside
Art thou welcome.

And, as swallows build
In these wide, old-fashioned chimneys,
So thy twittering songs shall nestle
In my bosom,-
Quiet, close, and warm,
Sheltered from all molestation,
And recalling by their voices
Youth and travel.

AFTERNOON IN FEBRUARY,

The day is ending,
The night is descending;
The marsh is frozen,

The river dead.

Through clouds like ashes
The red sun flashes
On village windows

That glimmer red.

The snow recommences;
The buried fences
Mark no longer

The road o'er the plain ;

While through the meadows,
Like fearful shadows,
Slowly passes

A funeral train.

The bell is pealing,
And every feeling
Within me responds

To the dismal knell;

Shadows are trailing,
My heart is bewailing
And tolling within

Like a funeral bell.

WALTER VON DER VOGELWEID. Vogelwerd the Minnesinger,

When he left this world of ours, Laid his body in the cloister,

Under Wurtzburg's minster towers.
And he gave the monks his treasures,

Gave them all with his behest :
They should feed the birds at noontide

Daily on his place of rest;
Saying, “From these wandering minstrels

I have learned the art of song; Let me now repay the lessons

They have taught so well and long."
Thus the bard of love departed;

And, fulfilling his desire,
On his tomb the birds were feasted

By the children of the choir.

Day by day, o'er tower and turret,

In foul weather and in fair, Day by day, in vaster numbers,

Flocked the poets of the air.

On the tree whose heavy branches

Overshadowed all the place,
On the pavement, on the tombstone,

On the poet's sculptured face.
On the cross-bars of each window,

On the lintel of each door,
They renewed the War of Wartburg,

Which the bard had fought before.
There they sang their merry carols,

Sang their lauds on every side ; And the name their voices uttered

Was the name of Vogelweid. Till at length the portly abbot

Murmured, “Why this waste of food ? Be it changed to loaves henceforward

For our fasting brotherhood.” Then in vain o'er tower and turret,

From the walls and woodland nests, When the minster bell rang noontide,

Gathered the unwelcomed guests. Then in vain, with cries discordant,

Clamorous round the Gothic spire,
Screamed the feathered Minnesingers

For the children of the choir.
Time has long effaced the inscriptions

On the cloister's funeral stones,
And tradition only tells us

Where repose the poet's bones. But around the vast cathedral,

By sweet echoes multiplied, Still the birds repeat the legend,

And the name of Vogelweid.

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