Saying, “From these wandering minstrels
I have learned the art of song;
Let me now repay the lessons
They have taught so well and long.”
Thus the bard of love departed;
And, fulfilling his desire,
On his tomb the birds were feasted
By the children of the choir.
Day by day, o’er tower and turret,
In foul weather and in fair,
Day by day, in vaster numbers,
Flocked the poets of the air.
On the tree whose heavy branches
Overshadowed all the place,
On the pavement, on the tombstone,
On the poet’s sculptured face,
On the cross-bars of each window,
On the lintel of each door,
They renewed the War of Wartburg,
Which the bard had fought before.
There they sang their merry carols,
Sang their lauds on every side;
And the name their voices uttered
Was the name of Vogelweid.
Till at length the portly abbot
Murmured, “Why this waste of food?
Be it changed to loaves henceforward
For our tasting brotherhood.”
Then in vain o’er tower and turret,
From the walls and woodland nests,
When the minster bells rang noontide,
Gathered the unwelcome guests.
Then in vain, with cries discordant,
Clamorous round the Gothic spire,
Screamed the feathered Minnesingers
For the children of the choir.
Time has long effaced the inscriptions
On the cloister’s funeral stones,
And tradition only tells us
Where repose the poet’s bones.
But around the vast cathedral,
By sweet echoes multiplied,
Still the birds repeat the legend,
And the name of Vogelweid.
INSCRIPTION FOR AN ANTIQUE PITCHER
Come, old friend! sit down and listen!
From the pitcher, placed between us,
How the waters laugh and glisten
In the head of old Silenus!
Old Silenus, bloated, drunken,
Led by his inebriate Satyrs;
On his breast his head is sunken,
Vacantly he leers and chatters.
Fauns with youthful Bacchus follow;
Ivy crowns that brow supernal
As the forehead of Apollo,
And possessing youth eternal.
Round about him, fair Bacchantes,
Bearing cymbals, flutes, and thyrses,
Wild from Naxian groves, or Zante’s
Vineyards, sing delirious verses.
Thus he won, through all the nations,
Bloodless victories, and the farmer
Bore, as trophies and oblations,
Vines for banners, ploughs for armor.
Judged by no o’erzealous rigor,
Much this mystic throng expresses:
Bacchus was the type of vigor,
And Silenus of excesses.
These are ancient ethnic revels,
Of a faith long since forsaken;
Now the Satyrs, changed to devils,
Frighten mortals wine-o’ertaken.