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Down on the sharp-horned ledges
Plunging in steep cascade, Tossing its white-maned waters
Against the hemlock's shade.
Woodsy and wild and lonesome,
East and west and north and south ; Only the village of fishers
Down at the river's mouth;
Only here and there a clearing,
With its farm-house rude and new, And tree-stumps, swart as Indians,
Where the scanty harvest grew.
No vintage-song he heard,
The merry violin stirred.
“ When Nature herself is glad, And the painted woods are laughing
At the faces so sour and sad ?”
Small heed had the careless cobbler
What sorrow of heart was theirs
And planted a state with prayers,
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, 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
With his brown and waxen palms.
“O for the purple harvests
Of the days when I was young! For the merry grape-stained maidens,
And the pleasant songs they sung ! “O 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,
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, Charın 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
With the marvels of the New.
Well he knew the tricks of magic,
And the lapstone on his knee
Or the stone of Doctor Dee.
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
The marvellous stone gave he, 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,
By twenties and by tens.
“ And fifty have I told : Now open
the new before me, And shut me out the old ! "
Like a cloud of mist, the blackness
Rolled from the magic stone, And a marvellous picture mingled
The unknown and the known.
Still ran the stream to the river,
And river and ocean joined ; And there were the bluffs and the blue sea-lino,
And cold north hills behind.
But the mighty forest was broken
By many a steepled town,
And many a garner brown. -
The stream no more ran free; White sails on the winding river,
White sails on the far-off sea.
Below in the noisy village
The flags were floating gay, And shone on a thousand faces
The light of a holiday.
Swiftly the rival ploughmen
Turned the brown earth from their shares ; Here were the farmer's treasures,
There were the craftsman's wares.
Golden the good-wife's butter,
Ruby her currant-wine;
Fat were the beeves and swine.
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, Mingled the gorgeous blossoms
Of the garden's tropic heart.
6 What is it I see?” said Keezar:
“ Am I here, or am I there? Is it a fête at Bingen?
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?
“Strange things, I know, will happen,
Strange things the Lord permits; But that droughty folk should be jolly
Puzzles my poor old wits.
And the maiden's step is gay;
Nor mopes, nor fools, are they.
“ Here's pleasure without regretting,
And good without abuse, The holiday and the bridal
Of beauty and of use. “ Here's a priest and there is a Quaker,
Do the cat and the dog agree? Have they burned the stocks for oven-wood ?
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 ? "
Loud laughed the cobbler Keezar,
Laughed like a school-boy gay ;
The lapstone rolled away.
It spun like a wheel bewitched,
And into the river pitched.
There, in the deep, dark water,
The magic stone lies still, Under the leaning willows
In the shadow of the hill.
But oft the idle fisher
Sits on the shadowy bank,
Where the wizard's lapstone sank.
And still, in the summer twilights,
When the river seems to run Out from the inner glory,
Warm with the melted sun,