"Heidelberg" [section title]
[HEIDELBERG] a
"Heidelberg" [poem]
Now from the smiling afternoon
The rain had past away;
And glimmered forth the pallid moon,
Amid the heavens grey.
Brake, and bush, and mead, and flower
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Were glistening with the sunny shower;
Where, from the tangled, viny wreath,
The clustered grape looked out beneath,—
Climbing up the southern side
Of the round hillsʼ bosom wide,—
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Branches of the chain that bound
All the south horizon round.
Far towards the western day
Mannheimʼs towers softened lay.— 1
But a moment:—darkly down b
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Came the thunder, heavenʼs frown!
ʼMong the trees, a fitful shaking
Told the hoarse night wind was waking.
Grey upon his mountain throne,
Heidelberg his ruins lone
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Reared colossally;
All begirt with mighty trees,
Whistling with the evenʼs breeze.
Flapping faintly by.. 2
It was morning:—from the height
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Cumbered with its ruins hoar,
All that lovely valley bright
We were looking oʼer,
With its silver river bending,—
Vineyards to its banks descending. 3
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Many a distant mountain chain
Girded round the mighty plain.
Here the sky was clear and bright;
But upon their distant height,
Like a monster oʼer his prey,
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Rain and tempest scowling lay;
Like a mighty ocean wave,
All along thʼ horizon sweeping.
Flinging far its cloudy spray,
Oʼer the peaceful heaven beating.
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Then around, the reddening sun
Gathered, throwing darkness dun
On the ruinʼs ghostly wall,—
Then between the pine‐trees tall,
Came quick the sound of raindrop fall.
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Fast increased, the leafy rattle
Spoke the coming tempest‐battle. c
Enter then the chambers cold—
Cold and lifeless, bald and bare;
Though with banners decked of old,
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Ivy tendrilsʼ flickering flare
Are the only banners there.
You would start to hear your tread
Given back by echoes dead!
You would look around to see
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If a sprite were watching thee!
Yet a vision would come oʼer thee
Of the scenes had past before thee;—
Of the time when many a guest
Blessed the baron for his feast;
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When the peasant, homeward stealing,—
Dusky night the hills concealing—
Heard the swell of wassail wild,
Cadence from the castle coming,
Mingling with the night‐breeze humming;
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And, until the morning mild
Lightened upon wall and tower,
Beacon‐light from hour to hour
Streaming from the windows tall
Of the baronʼs ancient hall:
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Where the shout around was ringing,
And the troubadour was singing
Ancient air and ancient rhyme—
Legend of the ancient time:—
Of some knightʼs blood, nobly spilt
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In the melée or the tilt;—
Of the deeds of some brave band,
Oath‐bound in the Holy Land,
Such as iron Richard led,
Steeled without and steeled within,—
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True in hand and heart and head,
Worthy foes of Saladin. 4
Or, if pleased a darker theme;—
Of spectres huge, at twilight seen
Above some battle‐field,
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Mimicking with motion dread
Past combat of those lying dead
Beneath their cloudy pinions spread—
Crested helm, and spear, and shield
In the red cloud blazonèd.
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Thus with feast and revelry
Oft the huge halls rang with glee;
All reckless of the withering woe
Reigned in their dungeons dank below,
Where, in the lone hoursʼ sullen flight,
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The masked day mingled with the night;
Until the captiveʼs practised eye
Could pierce the thick obscurity—
Could see his fetters glance, or tell
The stones which walled his narrow cell:
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Till, at the time the warder came,
His dusky lampʼs half smothered flame
Flashed on him like that sun whose ray,
And all the smile of lightsome day,
He has almost forgotten.
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"Heidelberg" [essay]
Most beautiful are the paths which scale the face of the hill which is
crowned by the castle of Heidelberg, 5 winding beneath the twisted branches
of green woods, with here and there a grey crag lifting up its lichened
head from the wilderness of brake 6 and grass and flower that concealed
the mass of that ancient granite, sometimes supporting a fragment of the
remains of the old walls, with here and there an arrow‐slit choked up with
ivy, then emerging on narrow vallies or steep and rocky dells, or lovely
sweeps of dewy green sward, fresh and flowery as ever fairies circled on,
and ending on a lofty terrace whose precipice‐base was begirt with
meadow land, at the point where a narrow mountain gorge opened into
the mighty plains of the Rhine, having in its embouchure 7 the little town
of Heidelberg, with its river and its tall arched bridge, all glistening under
that most lovely of all lights,—the first glow of sunshine, after a spring
shower.
The castle of Heidelberg is exceeding desolate. Armies have razed
its foundations, the thunder hath riven its towers, and there is no sound
in its courts, and the wind is still in the open galleries. 8 The grass is very
green on the floor of the hall of the banquet, and the wild birds build
their nests in the watch‐towers, and they dwell in the dwellings of man,
for they are forsaken and left, and there is no voice there—there is no
complaining in the dungeon, and where is the voice of gladness in the
hall? It is a ruin, a ruin, a desolate ruin. The husbandman sees it on
the height of the hills as he looks up from the green valley, and remembers
the power of his ancient princes, and knows not if he should grieve that
their power is past away. I know not how it is, but all nations in all
ages seem to have respected the juice of the fruit of the vine. All has
yielded to it from time immemorial. When Marshal Turenne attacked the
castle in question, 9 it was but a touch and go. The foundations were
blown up, the battlements were knocked down, the towers snapt like so
many sticks of barley sugar, the statues decapitated, the carving crashed,
the ditches filled, the castle ruined, but the cellars— Walk into them, sir,
walk into them; there is not a rat dispossessed or in any manner disturbed.

Why, they seem to have stopped puffing off powder here as if they were
afraid of shaking up the lees of the good old respectable wines. Even
the timber of the new‐fangled fashionable cask (which, following the
example of the ladies nowadays, has gone without hoops) are not a whit
disturbed, but sit there in peaceful placidity, clasping each other in
brotherly affection, but dry, very dry, unconscionably dry. And the cele‐
brated butt sounds mournfully hollow— 10 no rich splash from the enclosed
vinum, 11 no ruby red tinging the joints of the timbers. Oh, Bacchus!
Bacchus! come not into the cellars of Heidelberg, lest thou shouldest die
of thirst.