Nuremberg

Original Text: 
The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, with Bibliographical and Critical Notes, Riverside Edition (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1890), I, 197-201. PS 2250 E90 Robarts Library.
2Rise the blue Franconian mountains, Nuremberg, the ancient, stands.
3Quaint old town of toil and traffic, quaint old town of art and song,
4Memories haunt thy pointed gables, like the rooks that round them throng:
5Memories of the Middle Ages, when the emperors, rough and bold,
6Had their dwelling in thy castle, time-defying, centuries old;
7And thy brave and thrifty burghers boasted, in their uncouth rhyme,
8That their great imperial city stretched its hand through every clime.
9In the court-yard of the castle, bound with many an iron band,
11On the square the oriel window, where in old heroic days
13Everywhere I see around me rise the wondrous world of Art:
14Fountains wrought with richest sculpture standing in the common mart;
15And above cathedral doorways saints and bishops carved in stone,
16By a former age commissioned as apostles to our own.
18And in bronze the Twelve Apostles guard from age to age their trust;
20Like the foamy sheaf of fountains, rising through the painted air.
21Here, when Art was still religion, with a simple, reverent heart,
23Hence in silence and in sorrow, toiling still with busy hand,
24Like an emigrant he wandered, seeking for the Better Land.
26Dead he is not, but departed, -- for the artist never dies.
27Fairer seems the ancient city, and the sunshine seems more fair,
28That he once has trod its pavement, that he once has breathed its air!
29Through these streets so broad and stately, these obscure and dismal lanes,
31From remote and sunless suburbs came they to the friendly guild,
32Building nests in Fame's great temple, as in spouts the swallows build.
33As the weaver plied the shuttle, wove he too the mystic rhyme,
34And the smith his iron measures hammered to the anvil's chime;
35Thanking God, whose boundless wisdom makes the flowers of poesy bloom
36In the forge's dust and cinders, in the tissues of the loom.
38Wisest of the Twelve Wise Masters, in huge folios sang and laughed.
39But his house is now an ale-house, with a nicely sanded floor,
40And a garland in the window, and his face above the door;
41Painted by some humble artist, as in Adam Puschman's song,
43And at night the swart mechanic comes to drown his cark and care,
44Quaffing ale from pewter tankards, in the master's antique chair.
45Vanished is the ancient splendor, and before my dreamy eye
46Wave these mingled shapes and figures, like a faded tapestry.
47Not thy Councils, not thy Kaisers, win for thee the world's regard;
48But thy painter, Albrecht Dürer, and Hans Sachs thy cobbler bard.
49Thus, O Nuremberg, a wanderer from a region far away,
50As he paced thy streets and court-yards, sang in thought his careless lay:
51Gathering from the pavement's crevice, as a floweret of the soil,
52The nobility of labor, -- the long pedigree of toil.

Notes

1] Nuremberg: central Bavarian city on the Pegnitz river that was renowned for its intellectual, artistic, and religious freedom during the Renaissance. Back to Line
10] Queen Cunigunde: wife of Henry II, Kunigunde was later canonized for disproving slanders by walking barefoot over fiery irons. Back to Line
12] Melchior: Melchior Pfinzing, 16th-century German poet who made the emperor Maximilian hero of the poem Tenerdank.
Kaiser Maximilian: Maximilian II (1527-76). Back to Line
17] the church of sainted Sebald: Gothic church with a canopied bronze tomb by Peter Vischer in a shrine for the saint. The shrine has more than 100 figures, including the Twelve Apostles. Back to Line
19] the church of sainted Lawrence: Gothic church dedicated to St. Lawrence Justinian (1381-1456), with a ciborium (container for the Host) formed as a 64-foot spire sculpted by Adam Krafft. Back to Line
22] Albrecht Dürer: German painter and the inventor of etching (1471-1528) who lived in this city. He was renowned for his woodcuts of Christian themes -- hence "Evangelist of Art." Back to Line
25] Emigravit: "he has departed." Back to Line
30] Mastersingers: meistersinger, a member of a 15th-16th-century German guild dedicated to poetry and music. The Nuremberg meistersingers included Hans Sachs. Back to Line
37] Hans Sachs: German cobbler-poet (1494-1576) who lived in this city. Back to Line
42] "In a letter to Freiligrath, written in the spring of 1844, Mr. Longfellow says: 'Here I send you a poem on Nuremberg ....I trust I have not mistranslated wie ein Taub Jermas. It certainly stands for eine Taube or ein Tauber, and is dove and not deaf, though old Hans Sachs was deaf. But that Puschman describes afterwards when he says: --
Dann sein Red und
Gehör begunnt
Ihm abzugehn, etc.
Therefore dove-like it is and shall be, for F. says, "I would have it so at any rate!" and at any rate I will.'" (Editor, p. 197.) Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1845
Publication Notes: 
In The Belfry of Bruges and Other Poems
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.
Form: