Ah, what a stone fell from my heart at these words! “God bless the Porter,” I said in an ecstasy, “for being our uncle! I always set great store by him.” “And he would be very fond of you,” she replied, “if you would only comport yourself with more dignity, as he expresses it. You must dress with greater elegance.” “Oh,” I exclaimed, enchanted, “an English dress-coat, straw hat, long trousers, and spurs! And as soon as we’re married we will take a trip to Italy—to Rome—where lovely fountains are playing, and we’ll take with us the Prague students, and the Porter!” She smiled quietly, and gave me a happy glance, while the music echoed in the distance, and rockets flew up from the castle above the garden in the quiet night, and the Danube kept murmuring on, and everything, everything was delightful!
ADALBERT VON CHAMISSO
* * * * *
THE CASTLE OF BONCOURT (1827)
I dream of the days of my childhood,
And shake my silvery head.
How haunt ye my brain, O visions,
Methought ye forgotten and dead!
From the shades of the forest uprises
A castle so lofty and great;
Well know I the battlements, towers,
The arching stone-bridge, and the gate.
The lions look down from the scutcheon
On me with familiar face;
I greet the old friends of my boyhood,
And speed through the courtyard space.
There lies the Sphinx by the fountain;
The fig-tree’s foliage gleams;
’Twas there, behind yon windows,
I dreamt the first of my dreams.
I tread the aisle of the chapel,
And search for my fathers’ graves—
Behold them! And there from the pillars
Hang down the old armor and glaives.
Not yet can I read the inscription;
A veil hath enveloped my sight,
What though through the painted windows
Glows brightly the sunbeam’s light.
Thus gleams, O hall of my fathers,
Thy image so bright in my mind,
From the earth now vanished, the ploughshare
Leaves of thee no vestige behind.
Be fruitful, lov’d soil, I will
While anguish o’er-cloudeth my brow;
Threefold will I bless him, whoever
May guide o’er thy bosom the plough.
But I will up, up, and be doing;
My lyre I’ll take in my hand;
O’er the wide, wide earth will I wander,
And sing from land to land.