image George William Russell

The Spirit's Salute

On yonder turret grey...


 by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



The Spirit's Salute



THE hero's noble shade stands high


On yonder turret grey;

And as the ship is sailing by,


He speeds it on his way.


"See with what strength these sinews thrill'd!


This heart, how firm and wild!

These bones, what knightly marrow fill'd!


This cup, how bright it smil'd!


"Half of my life I strove and fought,


And half I calmly pass'd;

And thou, oh ship with beings fraught,


Sail safely to the last!" 





The Mountain Castle 





THERE stands on yonder high mountain


A castle built of yore,

Where once lurked horse and horseman


In rear of gate and of door.


Now door and gate are in ashes,


And all around is so still;

And over the fallen ruins


I clamber just as I will.


Below once lay a cellar,


With costly wines well stor'd;

No more the glad maid with her pitcher


Descends there to draw from the hoard.


No longer the goblet she places


Before the guests at the feast;

The flask at the meal so hallow'd


No longer she fills for the priest.


No more for the eager squire


The draught in the passage is pour'd;

No more for the flying present


Receives she the flying reward.


For all the roof and the rafters,


They all long since have been burn'd,

And stairs and passage and chapel


To rubbish and ruins are turn'd.


Yet when with lute and with flagon,


When day was smiling and bright,

I've watch'd my mistress climbing


To gain this perilous height,


Then rapture joyous and radiant


The silence so desolate brake,

And all, as in days long vanish'd,


Once more to enjoyment awoke;


As if for guests of high station


The largest rooms were prepared;

As if from those times so precious


A couple thither had fared;


As if there stood in his chapel


The priest in his sacred dress,

And ask'd: 'Would ye twain be united?'


And we, with a smile, answer'd, 'Yes!'


And songs that breath'd a deep feeling,


That touched the heart's innermost chord,

The music-fraught mouth of sweet echo,


Instead of the many, outpour'd.


And when at eve all was hidden


In silence unbroken and deep,

The glowing sun then look'd upwards,


And gazed on the summit so steep.


And squire and maiden then glitter'd


As bright and gay as a lord,

She seized the time for her present,


And he to give her reward. 

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