As down dark tides the glory slides,
And star-like mingles with the stars.
When on my goodly charger borne
Thro’ dreaming towns I go,
The cock crows ere the Christmas morn,
The streets are dumb with snow.
The tempest crackles on the leads,
And, ringing, spins from brand and mail;
But o’er the dark a glory spreads,
And gilds the driving hail.
I leave the plain, I climb the height;
No branchy thicket shelter yields;
But blessed forms in whistling storms
Fly o’er waste fens and windy fields.
A maiden knight—to me is given
Such hope, I know not fear,
I yearn to breathe the airs of heaven
That often meet me here.
I muse on joy that will not cease,
Pure spaces clothed in living beams,
Pure lilies of eternal peace,
Whose odours haunt my dreams;
And, stricken by an angel’s hand,
This mortal armour that I wear,
This weight and size, this heart and eyes,
Are touch’d, are turn’d to finest air.
The clouds are broken in the sky,
And thro’ the mountain-walls
A rolling organ-harmony
Swells up, and shakes and falls.
Then move the trees, the copses nod,
Wings flutter, voices hover clear:
“O just and faithful knight of God!
Ride on! the prize is near.”
So pass I hostel, hall, and grange;
By bridge and ford, by park and pale,
All-arm’d I ride, whate’er betide,
Until I find the Holy Grail.
Now there dwelt in a castle in the Netherland a certain King, Siegmund by name, who had to wife a fair lady Sieglind. These two had a son whom they called Siegfried, a very gallant prince. Very carefully did they train and teach him, but the root of the matter was in the lad himself, for he had an honest and good heart, and was in all things a very perfect knight. This Siegfried being come to man’s estate, and being well practised in arms, and having also as much of wealth as he needed, turned his thoughts to marriage, desiring to win a fair bride for himself.
It came to Prince Siegfried’s ears that there was a very fair maiden in the Rhineland, and that many noble knights had come from far and wide to make their suits to her, but that she would have none of them. Never yet had she seen the man whom she would take for her husband. All this the Prince heard, and he said, “This Kriemhild will I have for my wife.” But King Siegmund, when he heard of his son’s purpose, was not a little troubled thereat; and Queen Sieglind wept, for she knew the brother of Kriemhild, and she was aware of the strength and valour of his warriors. So they said to the Prince, “Son, this is not a wise wooing.” But Siegfried made answer, “My father, I will have none of wedlock, if I may not marry where I love.” Thereupon the King said. “If thou canst not forego this maiden, then thou shalt have all the help that I can give.”