Page images

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.


VOGELWEID. [WALTER VON DER VOGELWEID, or BIRD-MEADOW, was one of the principal Minnesingers of the thirteenth century. He triumphed over Heinrich von Ofterdingen in that poetic contest at Wartburg Castle, known in literary history as the War of Wartburg.] VogelwEID the Minnesinger,

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

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

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

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

strels 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 unwelcome guests.


COME, old friend ! sit down and listen!

From the pitcher, placed between us, How the waters laugh and glisten

In the head of old Silenus; Old Silenus, bloated, drunken,

Led by his inebriate Satyrs; On his breast his head is sunken,

Vacantly he leers and chatters. Fauns with youthful Bacchus follow;

Ivy crowns that brow supernal As the forehead of Apollo,

And possessing youth eternal. Round about him, fair Bacchantes,

Bearing cymbals, flutes, and thyrses, Wild from Naxian groves, or Zante's

Vineyards sing delirious verses. Thus he won, through all the nations,

Bloodless victories, and the farmer Bore, as trophies and oblations,

Vines for banners, ploughs forarmour. Judged by no o'erzealous rigour,

Much this mystic throng expresses : Bacchus was the type of vigour,

And Silenus of excesses. These are ancient ethnic revels,

Of a faith long since forsaken; Now the Satyrs, changed to devils,

Frighten mortals wine o'ertaken. Now to rivulets from the mountains

Point the rods of fortune-tellers ; Youth perpetual dwells in fountains,

Not in flasks, and casks and cellars. Claudius, though he sang of fagons And huge tankards filled with


From that fiery blood of dragons Distinct as a passing footstep's fall,

Never would his own replenish. It echoes along the vacant hall, Even Redi, though he chaunted

Along the ceiling, along the floor, Bacchus in the Tuscan valleys, And

seems to say at each chamber-door, Never drank the wine he vaunted

“Forever-never ! Never-forever!” In his dithyrambic sallies.

Through days of sorrow and of mirth, Then with water fill the pitcher

Through days of death and days of Wreathed about with classic fables ;

birth, Ne'er Falernian threw a richer

Through every swift vicissitude Light upon Lucullus' tables.

Of changeful time, unchanged it has Come, old friend, sit down and listen !

stood, As it passes thus between us,

And as if, like God, it all things saw, How its wavelets laugh and glisten

It calmly repeats those words of awe,In the head of old Silenus !

“Forever-never! Never-forever!"

In that mansion used to be
THE ARROW AND THE SONG. Free-hearted Hospitality;
I shot an arrow into the air,

His great fires up the chimney roared ; It fell to earth, I knew not where;

The stranger feasted at his board; For, so swiftly it few, the sight

But, like the skeleton at the feast, Could not follow it in its flight.

That warning timepiece never ceased, I breathed a song into the air,

“Forever-never! Never-forever!" It fell to earth, I knew not where; There groups of merry children played, For who has sight so keen and strong,

There youths and maidens dreaming That it can follow the flight of song?

strayed; Long, long afterward, in an oak

O precious hours! O golden prime,

And affluence of love and time!
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,

Even as a miser counts his gold,

Those hours the ancient timepiece I found again in the heart of a friend.


Forever-never ! Never-forever!” STAIRS.

From that chamber, clothed in white, [L'éternité est une pendule, dont le The bride came forth on her wedding balancier dit et redit sans cesse ces deux

night; mots seulement, dans le silence des There, in that silent room below, tombeaux: “Toujours! jamais! Jamais! The dead lay in his shroud of snow; toujours !"-JACQUES BRIDAINE.] And in the hush that followed the prayer, SOMEWHAT back from the village street

Was heard the old clock on the stair,Stands the old-fashioned country-seat,

“Forever-never ! Never-forever!” Across its antique portico

All are scattered now and fled, Tall poplar-trees their shadows throw, Some are married, some are dead; And from its station in the hall

And when I ask, with throbs of pain, An ancient timepiece says to all,- "Ah! when shall they all meet again?”

“Forever-never! Never-forever!” As in the days long-since gone by, Half-way up the stairs it stands,

The ancient time-piece makes reply,And points and beckons with its hands Forever-never ! Never--forever!” From its case of massive oak,

Never here, forever there, Like a monk, who, under his cloak, Where all parting, pain, and care, Crosses himself, and sighs alas !

And death, and time shall disappear,With sorrowful voice to all who pass, Forever there, but never here!

“Forever-never! Never-forever!” The horologe of Eternity By day its voice is low and light; Sayeth this

incessantly, But in the silent dead of night,

Forever-never ! Never-forever!" SONNETS.

AUTUMN. Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the

rain, With banners, by great gales incessant

fanned, Brighter than brightest silks of Samar

cand, And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain! Thou standest, like imperial Charle

magne, * Upon thy bridge of gold ; thy royal hand Outstretched with benedictions o'er the

land, Blessing the farms through all thy vast

domain. Thy shield is the red harvest moon,

suspended So long beneath the heaven's o'er

hanging eaves; Thy steps are by the farmer's prayers

attended; Like flames upon an altar shine the

sheaves; And, following thee, in thy ovation

splendid, Thine almoner, the wind, scatters the

golden leaves !

With thoughtful pace, and sad majestic

eyes, Stern thoughts and awful from thy soul

arise, Like Farinata from his fiery tomb, Thy sacred song is like the trump of

doom ; Yet in thy heart what human sym

pathies, What soft compassion glows, as in the

skies The tender stars their clouded lamps

relume! Methinks I see thee stand, with pallid

cheeks, By Fra Hilario in his diocese, As up the convent-walls, in golden

streaks, The ascending sunbeams mark the

day's decrease ; And, as he asks what there the stranger

seeks, Thy voice along the cloister whispers,


DANTE. TUSCAN, that wanderest through the

realms of gloom, * Charlemagne may be called by pre-eminence the monarch of farmers. According to the German tradition, in seasons of great abundance his spirit crosses the Rhine on a golden bridge at Bingen, and blesses the corn-fields and the vineyards. During his lifetime, he did not disdain, says Montesquieu, to sell the eggs from the farmyards of his domains, and the superfluous vegetables of his gardens ; while he distributed among his people the wealth of the Lombards, and the immense treasures of the Huns."

THE EVENING STAR. Lo! in the painted oriel of the West, Whose panes the sunken sun incarna

dines Like a fair lady at her casement, shines The Evening Star, the star of love and

rest! And then anon she doth herself divest Of all her radiant garments, and reclines Behind the sombre screen of yonder

pines, With slumber and soft dreams of love

oppressed. O my beloved, my sweet Hesperus ! My morning and my evening star of

love! My best and gentlest lady! even thus, As that fair planet in the sky above, Dost thou retire unto thy rest at night, And from thy darkened window fades

the light.



PREFATORY NOTE. [The story of “ EVANGELINE.” is founded on a painful occnrrence which took place in the early period of British colonization in the northern part of America.

In the year 1713, Acadia, or, as it is now named, Nova Scotia, was ceded to Great Britain by the French. The wishes of the inhabitants seem to have been little consulted in the change, and they with great difficulty were induced to take the oaths of allegiance to the British Government. Some time after this, war having again broken out between the French and British in Canada, the Acadians were accused of having assisted the French, from whom they were descended, and connected by many ties of friendship, with provisions and ammunition, at the siege of Beau Séjour. Whether the accusation was founded on fact or not, has not been satisfactorily ascertained ; the result, however, was most disastrous to the primitive, simple-minded Acadians. The British Government ordered them to be removed from their homes, and dispersed throughout the other colonies, at a distance from their much-loved land. This resolution was not communicated to the inhabitants till measures had been matured to carry it into immediate effect; when the Governor of the colony, having issued a summons calling the whole people to a meeting, informed them that their lands, tenements, and cattle of all kinds were forfeited to the British crown, that he had orders to remove them in vessels to distant colonies, and they must remain in custody till their embarkation.

The poem is descriptive of the fate of some of the persons involved in these calamitous proceedings.]

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighbouring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers,-
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that watered the woodlands,
Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?
Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers for ever departed !
Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October
Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o'er the ocean.
Nought but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pré.

Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient,
Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman's devotion,
List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest;
List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy.



In the Acadian land, on the shores of the Basin of Minas,
Distant, secluded, still, the little village of Grand-Pré
Lay in the fruitful valley. Vast meadows stretched to the eastward,
Giving the village its name, and pasture to flocks without number.
Dikes, that the hands of the farmers had raised with labour incessant,
Shut out the turbulent tides ; but at stated seasons the floodgates
Opened, and welcomed the sea to wander at will o'er the meadows.
West and south there were fields of flax, and orchards and cornfields
Spreading afar and unfenced o'er the plain, and away to the northward
Blomidon rose, and the forests old, and aloft on the mountains
Sea-fogs pitched their tents, and mists from the mighty Atlantic
Looked on the happy valley, but ne'er from their station descended.
There, in the midst of its farms, reposed the Acadian village.
Strongly built were the houses, with frames of oak and of chestnut,
Such as the peasants of Normandy built in the reign of the Henries.
Thatched were the roofs, with dormer-windows; and gables projecting
Over the basement below protected and shaded the doorway.
There, in the tranquil evenings of summer, when brightly the sunset
Lighted the village street, and gilded the vanes on the chimneys,
Matrons and maidens sat in snow-white caps and in kirtles
Scarlet and blue and green, with distaffs spinning the golden
Flax for the gossiping looms, whose noisy shuttles within doors
Mingled their sound with the whirr of the wheels and the songs of the maidens.
Solemnly down the street came the parish priest, and the children
Paused in their play to kiss the hand he extended to bless them.
Reverend walked he among them; and up rose matrons and maidens,
Hailing his slow approach with words of affectionate welcome.
Then came the labourers home from the field, and serenely the sun sank
Down to his rest, and twilight prevailed. Anon from the belfry
Softly the Angelus sounded, and over the roofs of the village
Columns of pale blue smoke, like clouds of incense ascending,
Rose from a hundred hearths, the homes of peace and contentment.
Thus dwelt together in love these simple Acadian farmers --
Dwelt in the love of God and of man. Alike were they free from
Fear, that reigns with the tyrant, and envy, the vice of republics.
Neither locks had they to their doors, nor bars to their windows;
But their dwellings were open as day and the hearts of the owners;
There the richest

was poor, and the poorest lived in abundance.
Somewhat apart from the village, and nearer the Basin of Minas,
Benedict Bellefontaine, the wealthiest farmer of Grand-Pré,
Dwelt on his goodly acres; and with him, directing his household,
Gentle Evangeline lived, his child, and the pride of the village.
Stalworth and stately in form was the man of seventy winters;
Hearty and hale was he, an oak that is covered with snow-flakes;
White as the snow were his locks, and his cheeks as brown as the oak-leaves.
Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers.
Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the way-side,
Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her tresses !
Sweet was her breath as the breath of kine that feed in the meadows.
When in the harvest heat she bore to the reapers at noontide

« PreviousContinue »