Page images
PDF
EPUB

And on the green no dancing feet 40

The merry violin stirred.

Why should folk be glum,” said Keezar,

" When nature herself is glad, And the painted woods are laughing

At the faces so sour and sad?

45 Small heed had the careless cobbler

What sorrow of heart was theirs
Who travailed in pain with the births of God,

And planted a state with prayers,

50

Hunting of witches and warlocks,

Smiting the heathen horde, -
One hand on the mason's trowel,

And one on the soldier's sword!

But give him his ale and cider,

Give him his pipe and song, 55 Little he cared for Church or State,

Or the balance of right and wrong.

“ 'Tis work, work, work,” he muttered,

“ And for rest a snuffle of psalms!He smote on his leathern apron 60 With his brown and waxen palms.

“Oh for the purple harvests

Of the days when I was young!
For the merry grape-stained maidens,

And the pleasant songs they sung!

65

" Oh for the breath of vineyards,

Of apples and nuts and wine!

For an oar to row and a breeze to blow

Down the grand old river Rhine!”

A tear in his blue eye glistened, 70 And dropped on his beard so gray. "Old, old am I,” said Keezar,

" And the Rhine flows far away!

But a cunning man was the cobbler;

He could call the birds from the trees, 75 Charm the black snake out of the ledges,

And bring back the swarming bees.

All the virtues of herbs and metals,

All the lore of the woods, he knew, And the arts of the Old World mingled 80 With the marvels of the New.

Well he knew the tricks of magic,

And the lapstone on his knee
Had the gift of the Mormon's goggles,

Or the stone of Doctor Dee.

85 For the mighty master Agrippa

Wrought it with spell and rhyme
From a fragment of mystic moonstone

In the tower of Nettesheim.

To a cobbler Minnesinger 90

The marvellous stone gave he, 84. Dr. John Dee was a man of vast knowledge, who had an extensive museum, library, and apparatus; he claimed to be an Astrologer, and had acquired the reputation of having dealings with evil spirits, and a mob was raised which destroyed the greater part of his possessions. He professed to raise the dead and had a magic crystal. He died a pauper in 1608.

85. Henry Cornelius Agrippa (1486–15:35) was an alchemist.

And he gave it, in turn, to Keezar,

Who brought it over the sea.

He held up that mystic lapstone,

He held it up like a lens, 95 And he counted the long years coming

By twenties and by tens.

“ One hundred years," quoth Keezar,

“ And fifty have I told: Now open the new before me,

And shut me out the old!”

[ocr errors]

Like a cloud of mist, the blackness

Rolled from the magic stone,
And a marvellous picture mingled

The unknown and the known.

105 Still ran the stream to the river,

And river and ocean joined;
And there were the bluffs and the blue sea-line,

And cold north hills behind.

TIO

But the mighty forest was broken

By many a steepled town,
By many a white-walled farm-house,

And many a garner brown.

Turning a score of mill-wheels,

The stream no more ran free; 15 White sails on the winding river,

White sails on the far-off sea.

Below in the noisy village

The flags were floating gay,

[blocks in formation]

Swiftly the rival ploughmen

Turned the brown earth from their shares; Here were the farmer's treasures,

There were the craftsman's wares.

125 Golden the goodwife's butter,

Ruby her currant-wine;
Grand were the strutting turkeys,

Fat were the beeves and swine.

Yellow and red were the apples, 130 And the ripe pears russet-brown,

And the peaches had stolen blushes

From the girls who shook them down.

And with blooms of hill and wild-wood,

That shame the toil of art, 135 Mingled the gorgeous blossoms

Of the garden's tropic heart.

" What is it I see?” said Keezar:

“ Am I here, or am I there?

Is it a fête at Bingen? 140 Do I look on Frankfort fair?

“ But where are the clowns and puppets,

And imps with horns and tail?
And where are the Rhenish flagons?

And where is the foaming ale?

145 "Strange things, I know, will happen,

Strange things the Lord permits;

But that droughty folk should be jolly

Puzzles my poor old wits.

“ Here are smiling manly faces, 150

And the maiden's step is gay ;
Nor sad by thinking, nor mad by drinking,

Nor mopes, nor fools, are they.

“ Here's pleasure without regretting,

And good without abuse, 155 The holiday and the bridal

Of beauty and of use.

a

[ocr errors]

“ Here's a priest and there is a Quaker,

Do the cat and dog agree?

Have they burned the stocks for oven-wood ? 160 Have they cut down the gallows-tree ?

“ Would the old folk know their children ?

Would they own the graceless town,
With never a ranter to worry

And never a witch to drown?

165 Loud laughed the cobbler Keezar,

Laughed like a school-boy gay;
Tossing his arms above him,

The lapstone rolled away.

It rolled down the rugged hillside, 170 It spun like a wheel bewitched,

It plunged through the leaning willows,

And into the river pitched.

There, in the deep, dark water,

The magic stone lies still,

« PreviousContinue »