Verse > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow > Complete Poetical Works
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882).  Complete Poetical Works.  1893.
 
Christus: A Mystery
Part II. The Golden Legend.
Second Interlude
Martin Luther
 
A Chamber in the Wartburg. Morning. Martin Luther Writing

MARTIN LUTHER.
    Our God, a Tower of Strength is He,
    A goodly wall and weapon;
    From all our need He helps us free,
    That now to us doth happen.
        The old evil foe        5
        Doth in earnest grow,
        In grim armor dight,
        Much guile and great might;
    On earth there is none like him.
 
OH yes; a tower of strength indeed,        10
A present help in all our need,
A sword and buckler is our God.
Innocent men have walked unshod
O’er burning ploughshares, and have trod
Unharmed on serpents in their path,        15
And laughed to scorn the Devil’s wrath!
 
Safe in this Wartburg tower I stand
Where God hath led me by the hand,
And look down, with a heart at ease,
Over the pleasant neighborhoods,        20
Over the vast Thuringian Woods,
With flash of river, and gloom of trees,
With castles crowning the dizzy heights,
And farms and pastoral delights,
And the morning pouring everywhere        25
Its golden glory on the air.
Safe, yes, safe am I here at last,
Safe from the overwhelming blast
Of the mouths of Hell, that followed me fast,
And the howling demons of despair        30
That hunted me like a beast to his lair.
 
    Of our own might we nothing can;
    We soon are unprotected;
    There fighteth for us the right Man,
    Whom God himself elected.        35
        Who is He; ye exclaim?
        Christus is his name,
        Lord of Sabaoth,
        Very God in troth;
    The field He holds forever.        40
 
Nothing can vex the Devil more
Than the name of Him whom we adore.
Therefore doth it delight me best
To stand in the choir among the rest,
With the great organ trumpeting        45
Through its metallic tubes, and sing:
Et verbum caro factum est!
These words the Devil cannot endure,
For he knoweth their meaning well!
Him they trouble and repel,        50
Us they comfort and allure,
And happy it were, if our delight
Were as great as his affright!
 
Yea, music is the Prophets’ art;
Among the gifts that God hath sent,        55
One of the most magnificent!
It calms the agitated heart;
Temptations, evil thoughts, and all
The passions that disturb the soul,
Are quelled by its divine control,        60
As the Evil Spirit fled from Saul,
And his distemper was allayed,
When David took his harp and played.
 
    This world may full of Devils be,
    All ready to devour us;        65
    Yet not so sore afraid are we,
    They shall not overpower us.
        This World’s Prince, howe’er
        Fierce he may appear,
        He can harm us not,        70
        He is doomed, God wot!
    One little word can slay him!
 
Incredible it seems to some
And to myself a mystery,
That such weak flesh and blood as we,        75
Armed with no other shield or sword,
Or other weapon than the Word,
Should combat and should overcome
A spirit powerful as he!
He summons forth the Pope of Rome        80
With all his diabolic crew,
His shorn and shaven retinue
Of priests and children of the dark;
Kill! kill! they cry, the Heresiarch,
Who rouseth up all Christendom        85
Against us; and at one fell blow
Seeks the whole Church to overthrow!
Not yet; my hour is not yet come.
 
Yesterday in an idle mood,
Hunting with others in the wood,        90
I did not pass the hours in vain,
For in the very heart of all
The joyous tumult raised around,
Shouting of men, and baying of hound,
And the bugle’s blithe and cheery call,        95
And echoes answering back again,
From crags of the distant mountain chain,—
In the very heart of this, I found
A mystery of grief and pain.
It was an image of the power        100
Of Satan, hunting the world about,
With his nets and traps and well-trained dogs,
His bishops and priests and theologues,
And all the rest of the rabble rout,
Seeking whom he may devour!        105
Enough I have had of hunting hares,
Enough of these hours of idle mirth,
Enough of nets and traps and gins!
The only hunting of any worth
Is where I can pierce with javelins        110
The cunning foxes and wolves and bears,
The whole iniquitous troop of beasts,
The Roman Pope and the Roman priests
That sorely infest and afflict the earth!
 
Ye nuns, ye singing birds of the air!        115
The fowler hath caught you in his snare,
And keeps you safe in his gilded cage,
Singing the song that never tires,
To lure down others from their nests;
How ye flutter and beat your breasts,        120
Warm and soft with young desires
Against the cruel, pitiless wires,
Reclaiming your lost heritage!
Behold! a hand unbars the door,
Ye shall be captives held no more.        125
 
    The Word they shall perforce let stand,
    And little thanks they merit!
    For He is with us in the land,
    With gifts of his own Spirit!
        Though they take our life,        130
        Goods, honors, child and wife,
        Let these pass away,
        Little gain have they;
    The Kingdom still remaineth!
 
Yea, it remaineth forevermore,        135
However Satan may rage and roar,
Though often he whispers in my ears:
What if thy doctrines false should be?
And wrings from me a bitter sweat.
Then I put him to flight with jeers,        140
Saying: Saint Satan! pray for me;
If thou thinkest I am not saved yet!
 
And my mortal foes that lie in wait
In every avenue and gate!
As to that odious monk John Tetzel,        145
Hawking about his hollow wares
Like a huckster at village fairs,
And those mischievous fellows, Wetzel,
Campanus, Carlstadt, Martin Cellarius,
And all the busy, multifarious        150
Heretics, and disciples of Arius,
Half-learned, dunce-bold, dry and hard,
They are not worthy of my regard,
Poor and humble as I am.
 
But ah! Erasmus of Rotterdam,        155
He is the vilest miscreant
That ever walked this world below!
A Momus, making his mock and mow,
At Papist and at Protestant,
Sneering at St. John and St. Paul,        160
At God and Man, at one and all;
And yet as hollow and false and drear,
As a cracked pitcher to the ear,
And ever growing worse and worse!
Whenever I pray, I pray for a curse        165
On Erasmus, the Insincere!
 
Philip Melancthon! thou alone
Faithful among the faithless known,
Thee I hail, and only thee!
Behold the record of us three!        170
  Res et verba Philippus,
  Res sine verbis Lutherus;
  Erasmus verba sine re!
 
My Philip, prayest thou for me?
Lifted above all earthly care,        175
From these high regions of the air,
Among the birds that day and night
Upon the branches of tall trees
Sing their lauds and litanies,
Praising God with all their might,        180
My Philip, unto thee I write.
 
My Philip! thou who knowest best
All that is passing in this breast;
The spiritual agonies,
The inward deaths, the inward hell,        185
And the divine new births as well,
That surely follow after these,
As after winter follows spring;
My Philip, in the night-time sing
This song of the Lord I send to thee;        190
And I will sing it for thy sake,
Until our answering voices make
A glorious antiphony,
And choral chant of victory!
 
 
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors