"Ehrenbreitstein" [poem]
OH! warmly down the sunbeams fell
Along the broad and fierce Moselle;
And on the distant mountain ridge,
And on the city and the bridge,
So beautiful that stood.
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Tall tower and spire, and gloomy port
Were made and shattered in the sport
Of that impetuous flood,
That, on the one side washed the wall
Of gothic mansion fair and tall;
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And, on the other side, was seen,
Checked by broad meadows rich and green;
And scattering spray that sparkling flew,
And fed the grass with constant dew.
With broader stream and mightier wrath,
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The Rhine had chosen bolder path,
All, yielding to his forceful will;
Through basalt gorge, and rock ribbed hill,
Still flashed his deep right on;
It checked not at the battled pride,
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Where Ehrenbreitstein walled his side;
Stretching across with giant stride,
The mighty waves the rock deride,
And on the crag, like armies, ride;
Flinging the white foam far and wide,
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Upon the rough grey stone.
Beneath the brow of yon dark fell
Join the two brothers; the Moselle,
Greeting the Rhine in friendly guise, 1
To mingle with his current flies: 2
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Together down the rivers go,
Resistless oʼer their rocky foe,
As lovers, joining hand in hand;
Towards the west, beside their strand
They pass together playfully,
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Like allied armiesʼ mingled band:
Toward the east white whirls of sand
The torrent tosses by. 3
The morning came, and rosy light
Blushed on the bastions and the height,
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Where traitor never stood; 4
While, far beneath in misty night,
The waters wheeled their sullen flight,
Till oʼer them far, for many a rood,
The red sun scattered tinge of blood;
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Then, broadening into brighter day,
On the rich plain the lustre lay;
And distant spire and village white
Confessed the kiss of dawn,
Amid the forests shining bright
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Still multiplying on the sight,
As sunnier grew the morn.
We climbed the crag, we scaled the ridge,
On Coblentz looked adown;
The tall red roofs, the long white bridge,
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And on the eye‐like frown
Of the portals of her palaces,
And on her peopleʼs busy press.
There never was a fairer town,
Between two rivers as it lay,
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Whence morning mist was curling grey
On the plainʼs edge beside the hill:—
Oh! it was lying calm and still
In morningʼs chastened glow:
The multitudes were thronging by,
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But we were dizzily on high,
And we might not one murmur hear,
Nor whisper tingling on the ear,
From the far depth below.
The bridge of boats, the bridge of boats—
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Across the swift tide how it floats
In one dark bending line!
For other bridge were swept away;—
Such shackle loveth not the play
Of the impetuous Rhine;—
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The feeble bridge that bends below
The tread of one weak man,—
It yet can stem the forceful flow,
Which nought unyielding can.
The bar of shingle stems the sea,
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The granite cliffs are worn away;
The bending reed can bear the blast,
When English oak were downward cast;
The bridge of boats the Rhine can chain,
Where strength of stone were all in vain.
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Oh! fast and faster on the stream
An island driveth down;
The Schwartzwald pine hath shed its green,
But not at autumnʼs frown;
A sharper winter stripped them there,—
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The tall, straight trunks are bald and bare:Ȕ
The peasant, on some Alpine brow,
Hath cut the root and lopped the bough;
The eagle heard the echoing fall,
And soared away to his high eyrie;
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The chamois gave his warning call,
And higher on the mountain tall
Pursued his way unweary.
They come, they come! the long pine floats,—
Unchain the bridge, throw loose the boats,
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Lest, by the raft so rudely driven,
The iron bolts be burst and riven! 5
They come, they come! careering fast,—
The bridge is gained, the bridge is past,—
Before the flashing foam they flee,
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Towards the ocean rapidly;
There, firmly bound by builderʼs care,
The rage of wave and wind to dare,
Or burst of battle shock to bear,
Upon the boundless sea.
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