Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Germany
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Germany: Vols. XVII–XVIII.  1876–79.
 
Rhine, the River
The Rhine
Magnus Sabiston
 
(From Hildegarde)

THE RHINE, the far-famed, castled Rhine,
  The mirror-stream of chivalry!
What legends hang about its course,
  From Mount St. Gothard to the sea!
 
Most famous of historic streams,        5
  Its banks have long been classic ground;
From the dim ages of the past,
  In story and in song renowned.
 
The Rhine,—the legendary Rhine!
  What tales so wondrous e’er were told        10
As those of its fiend-haunted wilds,
  Its lovely nymphs, and knights of old!
 
River of battle and romance,
  Chivalric Rhine! to it belong
The records of the historic page,        15
  The legend, and the poet’s song.
 
It drinks the cool, clear glacier-stream,
  ’Neath azure skies and Alpine snows;
A brook, a torrent, and a lake,
  It rushes on, and greater grows.        20
 
It winds by many a castled rock,
  And many a dark and dreadful steep,
Where grim old ruins o’er its flood
  Their watch like jealous guardians keep.
 
The Rhine,—the wild, romantic Rhine,—        25
  The wondrous, spectre-haunted stream!
Its sight brings back the distant past:
  I gaze upon it, and I dream.
 
I see these castles as they stood
  Many a hundred years ago:        30
I hear the challenge and reply,
  As mail-clad horsemen come and go.
 
I see dark forests stretching far,
  Where trees no longer have a place;
I listen to the hunting-horn        35
  Of stout old Rhinegraves in the chase.
 
I hear the merry laugh and shout
  Of many a joyous party bent
On the high sport of falconry,
  Or bound to some great tournament.        40
 
How fair the ladies whom I see
  On pillioned palfreys gayly ride!
How brave and courteous are the knights
  Who canter proudly by their side!
 
O for the days when noble deeds        45
  Alone gained grace in beauty’s eyes,—
When men held honor more than life,
  And fame, not wealth, the sought-for prize!
 
O for the days of chivalry,—
  Of tournament and glittering throng,        50
And masque and pageantry and feast,
  And lady-love and minstrel song!
 
O for a life-long summer day
  To gaze on yonder glorious stream,
And give my wandering fancy play        55
  In many a visionary dream!
 
 
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