"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. a
The clustered grape looked out beneath
Climbing up the southern side,
Of the round hills bosom wide,
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Branches of the chain that bound
All the south horizon round,
Far towards the western day,
Manheims towers softened lay, 1
From behind a thunder‐cloud,
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Dark as envy, shot the sun.
On those towers high and proud,
Hazily his rays came down, b
Smiling with those bright rays kiss.
Shooting round effulgence moony,
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Like a lovely Oasis.
ʼMid a desert dark and gloomy. c
But a moment— darkly down,
Came the thunder heavens frown,
ʼMong the trees a fitful shaking,
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Told the hoarse night wind was waking,
Grey upon his mountain throne,
Heidelberg his ruins lone,
Reared colossally,
All begirt with mighty trees. d
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Whistling with the evens breeze,
Flapping faintly by. 2
It was morning, from the height. e
Cumbered with its ruins hoar,
All that lovely valley bright,
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We were looking oer.
With its silver river bending,
Vineyards to its banks descending, 3
Many a distant mountain chain
Girded round the mighty plain.
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Here the sky was clear and bright,
But upon their distant height
Like a monster oer his prey,
Rain and tempest scowling lay.
Like a mighty ocean wave,
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All along thʼ horizon sweeping,
Flinging far its cloudy spray
Oer the peaceful heaven beating.
Then around the reddening sun,
Gathered, throwing darkness dun,
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On the ruind ghostly wall.
Then between the pinetrees tall,
Came quick sound of raindrop fall.
Fast increased, the leafy rattle,
Spoke the coming tempest battle,
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Enter then the chambers cold,
Cold and lifeless, bald and bare.
Though with banners decked of old,
Ivy tendrils flickering flare,
Are the only banners there
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You would start, to hear your tread
Given back by echoes dead
You would look around to see,
If a sprite were watching thee.
Yet a vision would come oer thee,
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Of the scenes had past before thee,
Of the time when many a guest,
Blessed the baron for his feast,
When the peasant homeward stealing
Dusky night the hills concealing,
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Heard the swell of wassail wild
Cadence from the castle coming. f
Mingling with the night breeze humming,
And (until the morning mild
Lightened upon wall and tower
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Beacon fires from hour to hour
Streaming from the windows tall
Of the barons ancient hall,
Where the shout around was ringing
And the troubadour was singing
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Ancient air, and ancient rhyme,
Legend of the ancient time
Of some knights blood nobly spilt,
In the melee, or the tilt,
Of the deeds of some brave band
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Oath bound in the holy land
Such as iron Richard led,
Steeled without and steeled within
True in hand and heart and head
Worthy foes of Saladin. 4
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Or, if pleased a darker theme
Of spectres huge at twilight seen
Above some Battle field
Mimicking with motion dread
Past combat of those lying dead
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Beneath their cloudy pinions spread
Crested helm and spear, and shield
In the red cloud blazoned.
Thus with feast and revelry
Oft the huge halls rang with glee,
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All reckless of the withering woe
Reigned in their dungeons dank below
Where in the lone hours sullen flight
The masked day mingled with the night
Until the captives practised eye
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Could pierce the thick obscurity
Could see his fetters glance, or tell
The stones which walled his narrow cell
Till at the time the warder came
His dusky lamps half smothered flame
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Flashed on him like that sun, whose ray
And all the smile of lightsome day
He has almost forgotten.