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But they found, upon the greensward
Where his struggling hoofs had trod, Pure and bright, a fountain flowing
From the hoof-marks in the sod. From that hour, the fount unfailing
Gladdens the whole region round, Strengthening all who drink its waters,
While it soothes them with its sound.
GASPAR BECERRA. By his evening fire the artist
Pondered o'er his secret shame; Baffled, weary, and disheartened,
Still he mused, and dreamed of fame. 'Twas an image of the Virgin
That had tasked his utmost skill; But, alas ! his fair ideal
Vanished and escaped him still. From a distant Eastern island
Had the precious wood been brought; Day and night the anxious master
At his toil untiring wrought; Till, discouraged and desponding,
Sat he now in shadows deep, And the day's humiliation
Found oblivion in sleep. Then a voice cried, “Rise, O master!
From the burning brand of oak Shape the thought that stirs within
thee!” And the startled artist woke, Woke, and from the smoking embers Seized and quenched the glowing
wood; And therefrom he carved an image,
And he saw that it was good. O thou sculptor, painter, poet!
Take this lesson to thy heart: That is best which lieth nearest;
Shape from that thy work of art.
So sat they once at Christmas,
And bade the goblet pass; In their beards the red wine glistened
Like dew-drops in the grass. They drank to the soul of Witlaf,
They drank to Christ the Lord, And to each of the Twelve Apostles,
Who had preached his holy word. They drank to the Saints and Martyrs
Of the dismal days of yore,
They remembered one Saint more.' And the reader droned from the pulpit,
Like the murmur of many bees,
And Saint Basil's homilies;
From their prison in the tower,
Proclaimed the midnight hour. And the Yule-log cracked in the
chimney, And the Abbot bowed his head, And the flamelets flapped and flickered,
But the Abbot was stark and dead. Yet still in his pallid fingers
He clutched the golden bowl, In which, like a pearl dissolving,
Had sunk and dissolved his soul. But not for this their revels
The jovial monks forbore, For they cried, “ Fill high the goblet!
We must drink to one Saint more !"
KING WITLAF'S DRINKING
HORN. WITLAF, a king of the Saxons,
Ere yet his last he breathed, To the merry monks of Croyland
His drinking-horn bequeathed,That, whenever they sat at their revels,
And drank from the golden bowl, They might remember the donor,
And breathe a prayer for his soul.
TEGNER'S DRAPA. I HEARD a voice that cried, “Balder the Beautiful Is dead, is dead!" And through the misty air Passed like the mournful cry Of sunward-sailing cranes. I saw the pallid corpse Of the dead sun Borne through the Northern sky. Blasts from Niffelheim Lifted the sheeted mists Around him as he passed. And the voice for ever cried, “ Balder the Beautiful Is dead, is dead!”
Sing no more,
And died away Through the dreary night, In accents of despair. Balder the Beautiful God of the summer sun, Fairest of all the Gods! Light from his forehead beamed, Runes were upon his tongue, As on the warrior's sword. All things in earth and air Bound were by magic spell Never to do him harm; Even the plants and stones; All save the mistletoe, The sacred mistletoe! Hoeder, the blind old God, Whose feet are shod with silence, Pierced through that gentle breast With his sharp spear, by fraud Made of the mistletoe, The accursed mistletoe ! They laid him in his ship, With horse and harness, As on a funeral pyre. Odin placed A ring upon his finger, And whispered in his ear. They launched the burning ship! It floated far away Over the misty sea, Till like the sun it seemed, Sinking beneath the waves. Balder returned no more! So perish the old Gods! But out of the sea of Time Rises a new land of song, Fairer than the old. Over its meadows green Walk the young bards and sing. Build it again, O ye bards, Fairer than before! Ye fathers of the new race, Feed upon morning dew, Sing the new Song of Love! The law of force is dead ! The law of love prevails! Thor, the thunderer, Shall rule the earth no more, No more, with threats, Challenge the meek Christ.
THE SINGERS. God sent his singers upon earth With songs of sadness and of mirth, That they might touch the hearts of men, And bring them back to heaven again. The first, a youth, with soul of fire, Held in his hand a golden lyre; Through groves he wandered, and by
SUSPIRIA. Take them, O Death! and bear away
Whatever thou canst call thine own! Thine image, stamped upon this clay,
Doth give thee that, but that alone! Take them, O Grave ! and let them lie
Folded upon thy narrow shelves As garments by the soul laid by,
And precious only to ourselves !
Take them, O great Eternity!
And his invisible hands to-day have been Our little life is but a gust,
Laid on a young man's head. That bends the branches of thy tree,
And evermore beside him on his way And trails its blossoms in the dust.
The unseen Christ shall move,
“Dost thou, dear Lord, approve?' HYMN
Beside him at the marriage feast shall FOR MY BROTHER'S ORDINATION.
To make the scene more fair; Christ to the young man said: “Yet
Beside him in the dark Gethsemane one thing more:
Of pain and midnight prayer.
O holy trust! O endless sense of rest;
Like the beloved John And come and follow me!”
To lay his head upon the Saviour's Within this temple Christ again, unseen,
breast, Those sacred words hath said,
And thus to journey on!
THE GOLDEN LEGEND.
The old Legenda Aurea, or Golden Legend, was originally written in Latin, in the thirteenth century, by Jacobus de Voragine, a Dominican friar, who afterwards became Archbishop of Genoa, and died in 1292.
He called his book simply"" Legends of the Saints.” The epithet of Golden was given it by his admirers; for, as Wynkin de Worde says, Like as passeth gold in value all other metals, so this Legend exceedeth all other books.' But Edward Leigh, in much distress of mind, calls it“ a book written by a man of a leaden heart for the basenesse of the errours, that are without wit or reason, and of a brazen forehead, for his impudent boldnesse in reporting things so fabulous and incredible.”
This work, the great text-book of the legendary lore of the Middle Ages, was translated into French in the fourteenth century by Jean de Vignay, and in the fifteenth into English by William Caxton. It has lately been made more accessible by a new French translation: La Légende Dorée, traduite du Latin, par M.G. B. Paris, 1850. There is a copy of the original, with the Gesta Longobardorum appended, in the Harvard College Library, Cambridge, printed at Strasburg, 1496. The title-page is wanting; and the volume begins with the Tabula Legendorum.
I have called this poem the Golden Legend, because the story upon which it is founded seems to me to surpass all other legends in beauty and significance. It exhibits, amid the corruptions of the Middle Ages, the virtue of disinterestedness and self-sacrifice, and the power of Faith, Hope, and Charity, sufficient for all the exigencies of life and death. The story is told, and perhaps invented, by Hartmann von der Aue, a Minnesinger of the twelfth century. The original may be found in Mailáth's Altdeutsche Gedichte, with a modern German version. There is another in Marbach's Volksbücher, No. 32:
Voices. Oh, we cannot ! The Spire of Strasburg Cathedral.
The Apostles Night and Storm. LUCIFER, with And the Martyrs, wrapped in mantles, the Powers of the Air, trying to Stand as warders at the entrance, tear down the Cross.
Stand as sentinels o'erhead ! Lucifer. Hasten! hasten!
The Bells. Oye spirits !
Excito lentos! From its station drag the ponderous
Lucifer. Baffled! baffled !
Inefficient, All the saints and guardian angels
Craven spirits ! leave this labour Throng in legions to protect it;
Unto Time, the great Destroyer ! They defeat us everywhere!
Come away, ere night is gone!
Voices. Onward! onward !
With the night-wind,
Over field and farm and forest,
Lonely homestead, darksome hamlet,
Blighting all we breathe upon ! Lucifer. Lower! lower !
(They sweep away. Organ and Hover downward !
Vigilemus omnes !
The Castle of Vautsberg on the Rhine.
A chamber in a tower. PRINCE
Henry, sitting alone, ill and rest-
less. Midnight. Festa decoro!
Prince Henry. I cannot sleep! my
fervid brain Lucifer. Shake the casements! Break the painted
Calls up the vanished past again, Panes, that fiame with gold and crimson:
And throws its misty splendours deep Scatter them like leaves of autumn,
Into the pallid realms of sleep! Swept away before the blast!
A breath from that far-distant shore Voices. Oh, we cannot !
Comes freshening ever more and more, The Archangel
And wafts o'er intervening seas Michael flames from every window,
Sweet odours from the Hesperides ! With the sword of fire that drove us
A wind that through the corridor
Just stirs the curtain and no more, Headlong, out of heaven, aghast !
And, touching the æolian strings, The Bells.
Faints with the burden that it brings ! Funera plango!;
Come back! ye friendships long deFulgura frango!
parted! Sabbata pango!
That like o'erflowing streamlets started, Lucifer. Aim your lightnings
And now are dwindled, one by one, At the oaken,
To stony channels in the sun! Massive, iron-studded portals !
Come back ! ye friends, whose lives Sack the house of God, and scatter
are ended, Wide the ashes of the dead !
Come back, with all that light attended,
Which seemed to darken and decay
LUCIFER appears, in the garb of a
One who seeks A moment's audience with the Prince.
Prince Henry. When came you in? Lucifer.
A moment since. I found your study door unlocked, And thought you answered when I
knocked. Prince Henry. I did not hear you.
Lucifer. You heard the thunder; It was loud enough to waken the dead. And it is not a matter of special wonder That, when God is walking overhead, You should not hear my feeble tread. Prince Henry. What may your wish
or purpose be ?
Lucifer. Nothing or everything, as
Prince Henry Can you bring
Yes; very nearly. And, what is a wiser and better thing, Can keep the living from ever needing Such an unnatural,
strange proceeding, By showing conclusively and clearly That death is a stupid blunder merely, And not a necessity of our lives. My being here is accidental ; The storm, that against your casement
drives, In the little village below waylaid me. And there I heard with a secret delight, Of your maladies physical and mental, Which neither astonished nor dismayed And I hastened hither, though late in
the night, to proffer my aid ! Prince Henry (ironically). For this
you came ! Ah, how can I ever hope to requite This honour from one so erudite? Lucifer. The honour is mine, or will
be when I have cured your disease.
Prince Henry. But not till then. Lucifer. What is
illness? Prince Henry. It has no name. A smouldering, dull, perpetual flame, As in a kiln, burns in my veins, Sending up vapours to the head; My heart has become a dull lagoon, Which a kind of leprosy drinks and
drains; I am accounted as one who is dead, And, indeed, I think that I shall be soon. Lucifer. And has Gordonius the
Divine, In his famous Lily of Medicine, I see the book lies open before you,No remedy potent enough to restore
you? Prince Henry. None whatever!
Lucifer. The dead are dead, And their oracles dumb, when ques