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Nuremberg

2006-09-08 11:32

    IN the valley of the Pegnitz where across broad meadowlands

    Rise the blue Franconian mountains Nuremberg the ancient stands.

    Quaint old town of toil and traffic quaint old town of art and song

    Memories haunt thy pointed gables like the rooks that round them throng:

    Memories of the Middle Ages when the emperors rough and bold

    Had their dwelling in thy castle time-defying centuries old;

    And thy brave and thrifty burghers boasted in their uncouth rhyme

    That their great imperial city stretched its hand through every clime.

    In the court-yard of the castle bound with many an iron band

    Stands the mighty linden planted by Queen Cunigunde's hand;

    On the square the oriel window where in old heroic days

    Sat the poet Melchior singing Kaiser Maximilian's praise.

    Everywhere I see around me rise the wondrous world of Art:

    Fountains wrought with richest sculpture standing in the common mart;

    And above cathedral doorways saints and bishops carved in stone

    By a former age commissioned as apostles to our own.

    In the church of sainted Sebald sleeps enshrined his holy dust

    And in bronze the Twelve Apostles guard from age to age their trust;

    In the church of sainted Lawrence stands a pix of sculpture rare

    Like the foamy sheaf of fountains rising through the painted air.

    Here when Art was still religion with a simple reverent heart

    Lived and labored Albrecht Dürer the Evangelist of Art;

    Hence in silence and in sorrow toiling still with busy hand

    Like an emigrant he wandered seeking for the Better Land.

    Emigravit is the inscription on the tombstone where he lies;

    Dead he is not but departed —for the artist never dies.

    Fairer seems the ancient city and the sunshine seems more fair

    That he once has trod its pavement that he once has breathed its air!

    Through these streets so broad and stately these obscure and dismal lanes

    Walked of yore the Mastersingers chanting rude poetic strains.

    From remote and sunless suburbs came they to the friendly guild

    Building nests in Fame's great temple as in spouts the swallows build.

    As the weaver plied the shuttle wove he too the mystic rhyme

    And the smith his iron measures hammered to the anvil's chime;

    Thanking God whose boundless wisdom makes the flowers of poesy bloom

    In the forge's dust and cinders in the tissues of the loom.

    Here Hans Sachs the cobbler-poet laureate of the gentle craft

    Wisest of the Twelve Wise Masters in huge folios sang and laughed.

    But his house is now an ale-house with a nicely sanded floor

    And a garland in the window and his face above the door;

    Painted by some humble artist as in Adam Puschman's song

    As the old man gray and dove-like with his great beard  and long.

    And at night the swart mechanic comes to drown his cark and care

    Quaffing ale from pewter tankards in the master's antique chair.

    Vanished is the ancient splendor and before my dreamy eye

    Wave these mingled shapes and figures like a faded tapestry.

    Not thy Councils not thy Kaisers win for thee the world's regard;

    But thy painter Albrecht Dürer and Hans Sachs thy cobbler bard.

    Thus O Nuremberg a wanderer from a region far away

    As he paced thy streets and court-yards sang in thought his careless lay:

    Gathering from the pavement's crevice as a floweret of the soil

    The nobility of labor —the long pedigree of toil.

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