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Quiet, close, and warm,
WALTER VON DER VOGELWEID.
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 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,
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,
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 bells rang noontide,
Gathered the unwelcome 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.
INSCRIPTION FOR AN ANTIQUE PITCHER.
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 for armor.
Judged by no o'erzealous rigor,
Much this mystic throng expresses: Bacchus was the type of vigor,
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 flagons
And huge tankards filled with Rhenish, From that fiery blood of dragons
Never would his own replenish.
Even Redi, though he chaunted
Bacchus in the Tuscan valleys, Never drank the wine he vaunted
In his dithyrambic sallies.
Then with water fill the pitcher
Wreathed about with classic fables ; Ne'er Falernian threw a richer
Light upon Lucullus' tables.
Come, old friend, sit down and listen!
As it passes thus between us, How its wavelets laugh and glisten
In the head of old Silenus !
THE OLD CLOCK ON THE STAIRS
THE OLD CLOCK ON THE STAIRS.
The house commemorated in the poem is the Gold house, now known as the Plunkett mansion, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the homestead of Mrs. Longfellow's maternal grandfather, whither Mr. Longfellow went after his marriage in the summer of 1843. The poem was not written, however, till November, 1845, when, under date of the 12th of the month, he wrote in his diary:
Began a poem on a clock, with the words 'Forever, never,' as the burden; suggested by the words of Bridaine, the old French missionary, who said of eternity, C'est une pendule dont le balancier dit et redit sans cesse ces deux mots seulement dans le silence des tombeaux, - Toujours, jamais ! Jamais, toujours ! Et pendant ces effrayables révolutions, un réprouvé s’écrie, 'Quelle heure est-il ? ' et la voix d'un autre misérable lui répond, ' L'Éternité.?"
SOMEWHAT back from the village street
Half-way up the stairs it stands,
By day its voice is low and light;