The Golden Legend: III. A Street In Strasburg

Night.
PRINCE HENRY _wandering alone, wrapped in a cloak._

_Prince Henry._ Still is the night. The sound of feet
Has died away from the empty street,
And like an artisan, bending down
His head on his anvil, the dark town
Sleeps, with a slumber deep and sweet.
Sleepless and restless, I alone,
In the dusk and damp of these wails of stone,
Wander and weep in my remorse!

_Crier of the dead (ringing a bell)._ Wake! wake!
All ye that sleep!
Pray for the Dead!
Pray for the Dead!

_Prince Henry._ Hark! with what accents loud and hoarse
This warder on the walls of death
Sends forth the challenge of his breath!
I see the dead that sleep in the grave!
They rise up and their garments wave,
Dimly and spectral, as they rise,
With the light of another world in their eyes!

_Crier of the dead._ Wake! wake!
All ye that sleep!
Pray for the Dead!
Pray for the Dead!

_Prince Henry._ Why for the dead, who are at rest?
Pray for the living, in whose breast
The struggle between right and wrong
Is raging terrible and strong,
As when good angels war with devils!
This is the Master of the Revels,
Who, at Life's flowing feast, proposes
The health of absent friends, and pledges,
Not in bright goblets crowned with roses,
And tinkling as we touch their edges,
But with his dismal, tinkling bell,
That mocks and mimics their funeral knell!

_Crier of the dead._ Wake! wake!
All ye that sleep!
Pray for the Dead!
Pray for the Dead!

_Prince Henry._ Wake not, beloved! be thy sleep
Silent as night is, and as deep!
There walks a sentinel at thy gate
Whose heart is heavy and desolate,
And the heavings of whose bosom number
The respirations of thy slumber,
As if some strange, mysterious fate
Had linked two hearts in one, and mine
Went madly wheeling about thine,
Only with wider and wilder sweep!

_Crier of the dead (at a distance)._ Wake! wake!
All ye that sleep!
Pray for the Dead!
Pray for the Dead!

_Prince Henry._ Lo! with what depth of blackness thrown
Against the clouds, far up the skies,
The walls of the cathedral rise,
Like a mysterious grove of stone,
With fitful lights and shadows bleeding,
As from behind, the moon, ascending,
Lights its dim aisles and paths unknown!
The wind is rising; but the boughs
Rise not and fall not with the wind
That through their foliage sobs and soughs;
Only the cloudy rack behind,
Drifting onward, wild and ragged,
Gives to each spire and buttress jagged
A seeming motion undefined.
Below on the square, an armed knight,
Still as a statue and as white,
Sits on his steed, and the moonbeams quiver
Upon the points of his armor bright
As on the ripples of a river.
He lifts the visor from his cheek,
And beckons, and makes as he would speak.

_Walter the Minnesinger_ Friend! can you tell me where alight
Thuringia's horsemen for the night?
For I have lingered in the rear,
And wander vainly up and down.

_Prince Henry_ I am a stranger in the town,
As thou art, but the voice I hear
Is not a stranger to mine ear.
Thou art Walter of the Vogelweid!

_Walter_ Thou hast guessed rightly; and thy name
Is Henry of Hoheneck!

_Prince Henry_ Ay, the same.

_Walter_ (_embracing him_). Come closer, closer to my side!
What brings thee hither? What potent charm
Has drawn thee from thy German farm
Into the old Alsatian city?

_Prince Henry_. A tale of wonder and of pity!
A wretched man, almost by stealth
Dragging my body to Salern,
In the vain hope and search for health,
And destined never to return.
Already thou hast heard the rest
But what brings thee, thus armed and dight
In the equipments of a knight?

_Walter_. Dost thou not see upon my breast
The cross of the Crusaders shine?
My pathway leads to Palestine.

_Prince Henry_. Ah, would that way were also mine!
O noble poet! thou whose heart
Is like a nest of singing birds
Rocked on the topmost bough of life,
Wilt thou, too, from our sky depart,
And in the clangor of the strife
Mingle the music of thy words?

_Walter_. My hopes are high, my heart is proud,
And like a trumpet long and loud,
Thither my thoughts all clang and ring!
My life is in my hand, and lo!
I grasp and bend it as a bow,
And shoot forth from its trembling string
An arrow, that shall be, perchance,
Like the arrow of the Israelite king
Shot from the window toward the east,
That of the Lord's deliverance!

_Prince Henry_. My life, alas! is wha
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet and educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline. more…

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"The Golden Legend: III. A Street In Strasburg" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 19 Nov. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/18862/the-golden-legend:-iii.-a-street-in-strasburg>.

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