Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Switzerland
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Switzerland and Austria: Vol. XVI.  1876–79.
 
Austria: Metten, the Abbey
Work and Worship
William Allen Butler (1825–1902)
 
CHARLEMAGNE, the mighty monarch,
  As through Metten wood he strayed,
Found the holy hermit, Hutto,
  Toiling in the forest glade.
 
In his hand the woodman’s hatchet,        5
  By his side the knife and twine,
There he cut and bound the fagots
  From the gnarled and stunted pine.
 
Well the monarch knew the hermit
  For his pious works and cares,        10
And the wonders which had followed
  From his vigils, fasts, and prayers.
 
Much he marvelled now to see him
  Toiling thus, with axe and cord;
And he cried in scorn, “O Father,        15
  Is it thus you serve the Lord?”
 
But the hermit, resting neither
  Hand nor hatchet, meekly said:
“He who does no daily labor
  May not ask for daily bread.        20
 
“Think not that my graces slumber
  While I toil throughout the day;
For all honest work is worship,
  And to labor is to pray.
 
“Think not that the heavenly blessing        25
  From the workman’s hand removes;
Who does best his task appointed,
  Him the Master most approves.”
 
While he spoke the hermit, pausing
  For a moment, raised his eyes        30
Where the overhanging branches
  Swayed beneath the sunset skies.
 
Through the dense and vaulted forest
  Straight the level sunbeam came,
Shining like a gilded rafter,        35
  Poised upon a sculptured frame.
 
Suddenly, with kindling features,
  While he breathes a silent prayer,
See, the hermit throws his hatchet,
  Lightly, upward in the air.        40
 
Bright the well-worn steel is gleaming,
  As it flashes through the shade,
And descending, lo! the sunbeam
  Holds it dangling by the blade!
 
“See, my son,” exclaimed the hermit,—        45
  “See the token Heaven has sent;
Thus to humble, patient effort
  Faith’s miraculous aid is lent.
 
“Toiling, hoping, often fainting,
  As we labor, Love Divine        50
Through the shadows pours its sunlight,
  Crowns the work, vouchsafes the sign!”
 
Homeward slowly went the monarch,
  Till he reached his palace hall,
Where he strode among his warriors,        55
  He the bravest of them all.
 
Soon the Benedictine Abbey
  Rose beside the hermit’s cell;
He, by royal hands invested,
  Ruled, as Abbot, long and well.        60
 
Now beside the rushing Danube
  Still its ruined walls remain,
Telling of the hermit’s patience
  And the zeal of Charlemagne.
 
 
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