Konrad Wallenrod/II

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II.

In towers of Marienbourg the bells are ringing;
Now from the hall of council to the chapel
Comes the chief Komtur, then the chiefest rulers,
The chaplain, brothers, and assembled knights.
The chapter listen vesper orisons,
And sing a hymn unto the Holy Spirit.


Hymn.


Spirit! Thou Holy One,
Thou Dove of Sion's Hill!
This Christian world, the footstool of Thy throne,
With glory visible
Lighten, that all behold.
Thy wings o'er Sion's brotherhood unfold.
And let Thy glory shine from underneath
Thy wings, with sunlike rays.

And him, the worthiest of so holy praise,
Circle his temples with Thy golden wreath.
Fall on the visage of that son of man,
Whom shadows o'er Thy wings' protecting van.

Thou Saviour Son!
With beckoning of Thy hand almighty, deign
To point of many one.
Worthiest to hold,
And wear the sacred symbol of Thy pain.
To lead with Peter's sword thy soldiery,
Before the eyes of heathenesse unfold
The standards of Thy heavenly empery.
Then let the sons of earth bow lowly down.
Him on whose breast the cross shall gleam to own.

Prayers o'er, they parted. The Archkomtur[1] ordered
After repose, to seek the choir again;
Again entreat that Heaven would enlighten
Chaplains and brethren, called to such election.
 
So went they forth themselves to recreate
With the cool freshness of the night; and some
Sat in the castle porch, and others walk

Through gardens and through groves. The night
was still;
It was the fair May season; from afar
Peeped forth the pale uncertain dawn; the moon,
Having the sapphire plains o'ercoursed, with aspect
Changing, with varying lustre in her eye,
Now in a shadowy, now a silvery cloud
Slumbering, now sank her still and tranquil head.
Like to a lover in the wilderness;
Dreaming in thought, life's circle he o'erruns,
All hopes, all sweetness, and all sufferings.
Now sheds he tears, now joyful is his glance.
At length upon his breast the weary brow
Sinketh, and falls in sense's lethargy.

By walking other knights beguile the time,
But the Archkomtur wastes no time in vain.
He quickly summons Halban and the chiefs
Unto himself, and leads them to one side;
That, from the curious crowd afar removed,
They may pursue their counsels and impart
Forewarnings; from the castle go they forth.
They hasten to the plain. Conversing thus,
All heedless of their path, some hours astray
They wandered in the region close beside

The inlets of a tranquil lake. 'Tis morn!
This hour they should regain the capital.
They stop,—o, voice,—whence? From the corner
towerI
They listen,—'tis the voice of the recluse!
Long time within this tower, ten summers since,
Some unknown pious woman, from afar,[2]
Who came to Mary's town,—Maybe that Heaven
Inspired her blest design, or with the balm
Of penance she would heal the wounds of conscience,—
Did seek the shelter of a lone recluse.
And here she found while living yet a tomb.

Long time the chaplains would not give consent.
Then, wearied by the constancy of prayers.
They gave her in this tower a shelter lone.
Scarcely the sacred threshold had she crossed.
When o'er the threshold bricks and stones were
piled;
The angels only, in the judgment-day
Shall ope the door which parts her from the living.

Above a little window and a grate,
Whereby the pious folk send nourishment,

And Heaven sends breezes and the rays of day.
Poor sinner! was it hatred of the world
Abused thy young heart to so great extreme
That thou dost fear the sun, and heaven's fair face?
Scarcely imprisoned in her living grave,
None saw her, through the window of the tower.
Receive upon her lips the wind's fresh breath,
Nor look upon the heaven in sunshine beauty,
Or the sweet flowerets on the plain of earth.
Or, dearer hundred-fold, her fellow-men.

'Tis only known that still she is in life;
For when betimes a holy pilgrim wanders
Near her retreat by night, a sweet, low sound
Holds him awhile. Certain it is the sound
Of pious hymns. And when the village children
Together in the oak-grove sport at eve,
Then from the window shines a streak of white,
As 'twere a sunbeam from the rising dawn.
Is it an amber ringlet of her hair.
Or lustre of her slender, snowy hand
Blessing those innocent heads? The chivalry
Hear as they pass the corner tower these words:
"Thou art Konrad! Heaven! Fate is now fulfilled!

Thou shalt be Master, that thou mayest destroy
them!
Will they not recognise?—Thou hid'st in vain.
Though like the serpent's were thy body changed,
Yet of the past would in thy soul remain
Many things still,—truly they cleave to me.
Though after burial thou shouldst return,
Then, even then, would the Crusaders know
thee!"
The knights attend,—'tis the recluse's voice;
They look upon the grate; she bending seems,
Towards the earth she seems her arms to stretch.
To whom? The region is all desert round;
Only from far strikes an uncertain gleam.
In likeness of a steely helmet's flame,
A shadow on the earth, a knightly cloak;—
Already it has vanished. Certainly
'Twas an illusion of the eyes, most certain
It was the rosy glance of mom that gleamed.
For morning's clouds now rolled away from earth.

"Brothers!" spoke Halban, "give we thanks to
Heaven,
For certain Heaven's decree hath led us here;
Trust we to the recluse's prophet voice.

Heard ye? She made a prophecy of Konrad,—
Konrad, the name of valiant Wallenrod!
Let brother unto brother give the hand,
And knightly word, and in to-morrow's council
Our Master he!"[3]—"Agreed," they cried, "agreed!"
 
And shouting went they. Far along the vale
Resounds the voice of triumph and of joy;
"Long Konrad live! long the Grand-Master live!
Long live the Order! perish heathenesse!"

Halban remained behind, in deep thought plunged;
He on the shouters cast an eye of scorn.
He looked towards the tower, and in low tones,
This song he sang, departing from the place:—

Song.


Wilija, thou parent of streams in our land,
Heaven-blue is thy visage and golden thy sand;
But, lovely Litwinka,[4] who drinkest its wave.
Far purer thy heart, and thy beauty more brave.
 
Wilija, thou flowest through Kowno's fair vale.
Amid the gay tulips and narcissus pale.

At the feet of the maiden, the flower of our youth,
Than roses, than tulips, far fairer in sooth.

The Wilija despiseth the valley of flowers.
She seeks to the Niemen, her lover, to rove;
The Litwinka listens no love-tale of ours.
The youth of the strangers has filled her with love.

In powerful embrace doth the Niemen enfold,
And beareth o'er rocks and o'er wild deserts lone;
He presses his love to his bosom so cold,
They perish together in sea-depths unknown.

Thee too, poor Litwinka, the stranger shall call
Away from the joys of that sweet native vale;
Thou deep in Forgetfulness' billows must fall,
But sadder thy fate, for alone thou must fail.
 
For streamlet and heart by no warning are crost,
The maiden will love and the Wilija will run;
And in her loved Niemen the Wilija is lost,
In the dark prison-tower weeps the maiden undone.

  1. Note 4
  2. Note 5
  3. Note 6
  4. Lithuanian woman.