Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Spain, &c.
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV.  1876–79.
 
Spain: Cordova
Almanzor
Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)
 
Translated by C. G. Leland

I.
IN Cordova’s grand cathedral
Stand the pillars thirteen hundred;
Thirteen hundred giant pillars
Bear the cupola, that wonder.
 
And on walls and dome and pillars,        5
From the top to bottom winding,
Flow the Arabic Koran proverbs,
Quaintly and like flowers twining.
 
Moorish monarchs once erected
This fair pile to Allah’s glory;        10
But in the wild dark whirl of ages
Many a change has stolen o’er it.
 
On the minaret, where the Mollah
Called to prayer amid the turrets,
Now the Christian bells are ringing        15
With a melancholy drumming.
 
On the steps where once the Faithful
Sung the praises of the Prophet,
Now the mass’s worn-out wonder
To the world the bald priests offer.        20
 
What a turning, what a twisting,
By the puppets in odd draping!
What a bleating, steaming, ringing,
Round the foolish, flashing tapers!
 
In Cordova’s grand cathedral        25
Stands Almanzor ben Abdullah,
Silently the pillars eying,
And these words in silence murmuring:
 
“O ye strong and giant pillars,
Once adorned in Allah’s glory,        30
Now ye serve, and deck while serving,
The detested faith now o’er us!
 
“But if to the times ye ’re suited,
And ye calmly bear the burden,
Surely it becomes the weaker        35
Of such lore to be a learner.”
 
So Almanzor ben Abdullah
Smiled and bowed with cheerful motion,
O’er the decorated font-stone
In the minster of Cordova.        40
 
II.
HASTILY from the cathedral,
Headlong on his wild horse riding,
Went the knight, his ringlets waving,
And with them his feathers flying,
 
On the way to Alcolea,        45
All along the Guadalquivir,
By the perfumed golden orange
And the almond’s snow-white glitter.
 
Onward flies the joyous rider,
Whistling, singing, gayly laughing;        50
And the birds with merry music,
And the waterfall, sing after.
 
In the castle Alcolea
Dwells fair Clara de Alvarez.
She is free now, since her father        55
Wages battle in Navarra.
 
In the distance drums and trumpets
Sound a welcome to Almanzor,
And he sees the castle-tapers
Gleaming through the forest-shadows.        60
 
In the castle Alcolea
Twelve fair dames are gayly dancing;
Twelve gay knights are dancing with them,
Best of all Almanzor dances.
 
As if whirled by gay caprices,        65
Round the hall he gayly flutters,
And by him to every lady
Sweetest flattery is uttered.
 
Isabella’s pretty fingers
Then are kissed, and then he leaves her;        70
Next he stands before Elvira,
In her dark eyes archly peeping.
 
Laughingly he asks Lenora
If to-day he strikes her fancy;
And he shows the golden crosses        75
Richly broidered in his mantle.
 
And he vows to every lady,
“In my heart you live, believe me”;
And “As true as I ’m a Christian!”
Thirty times he swore that evening.        80
 
III.
IN the castle Alcolea
Mirth and music cease their ringing;
Lords and ladies are departed,
And the tapers are extinguished.
 
Donna Clara and Almanzor,        85
Only they alone still linger:
On them shines a single taper,
With its light wellnigh extinguished.
 
On her chair the dame is seated,
On her footstool he is dozing;        90
Till his head, with slumber weary,
On the knees he loves reposes.
 
Now she pours attar of roses
Cautiously, from golden vial,
On the brown locks of Almanzor,        95
And she hears him deeply sighing.
 
Ever cautiously the lady
Presses kisses sweet and loving
On the brown locks of Almanzor;
But his brow is clouded over.        100
 
Ever cautiously the lady
Weeps in floods, with anguish yearning,
On the brown locks of Almanzor;
And his lip with scorn is curling.
 
And be dreams again he ’s standing        105
In the minster at Cordova,
Bending with his brown locks dripping,
Gloomy voices murmuring o’er him.
 
And he hears the giant pillars
Their impatient anger murmur;        110
Longer they will not endure it,
And they tremble, and they totter,
 
And they wildly crash together.
Deadly pale are priest and people.
Down the cupola comes thundering,        115
And the Christian gods are grieving.
 
 
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