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Yet many a minstrel, in harping, can tell,
This tale is imitated, rather than translated, from a fragment introduced in Goethe's "Claudina Von Villa Bella," where it is sung by a member of a gang of banditti, to engage the attention of the family, while his companions break into the castle. It owes any little merit it may possess to my friend MR. LEWIS, to whom it was sent in an extremely rude state; and who, after some material improvements, published it in his "Tales of Wonder."
FREDERICK leaves the land of France,
Homeward hastes his steps to measure,
On the scene of former pleasure.
Joying in his prancing steed,
Keen to prove his untried blade,
Helpless, ruin'd, left forlorn,
Lovely Alice wept alone; Mourn'd o'er love's fond contract torn, Hope, and peace, and honour flown.
Mark her breast's convulsive throbs!
Loud the laugh of frenzy rose.
Wild she cursed, and wild she pray'd; Seven long days and nights are o'er; Death in pity brought his aid,
As the village bell struck four.
Far from her, and far from France,
Heard ye not the boding sound,
As the tongue of yonder tower, Slowly, to the hills around,
Told the fourth, the fated hour?
Starts the steed, and snuffs the air,
Struck with strange mysterious fears.
Desperate, as his terrors rise,
In the steed the spur he hides; From himself in vain he flies;
Anxious, restless, on he rides.
Seven long days, and seven long nights, Wild he wander'd, woe the while! Ceaseless care, and causeless fright, Urge his footsteps many a mile.
Dark the seventh sad night descends;
Rivers swell, and rain-streams pour; While the deafening thunder lends All the terrors of its roar.
Weary, wet, and spent with toil,
Where his head shall Frederick hide? Where, but in yon ruin'd aisle,
By the lightning's flash descried.
To the portal, dank and low,
Fast his steed the wanderer bound: Down a ruin'd staircase slow,
Next his darkling way he wound.
Long drear vaults before him lie! Glimmering lights are seen to glide!— "Blessed Mary, hear my cry!
Deign a sinner's steps to guide!"
Often lost their quivering beam,
Still the lights move slow before, Till they rest their ghastly gleam Right against an iron door.
Thundering voices from within,
Mix'd with peals of laughter, rose: As they fell, a solemn strain
Lent its wild and wondrous close!
'Midst the din, he seem'd to hear
Voice of friends, by death removed;Well he knew that solemn air, 'Twas the lay that Alice loved.—
Hark! for now a solemn knell
Four times on the still night broke:
As the lengthen'd clangours die,
Coffins for the seats extend;
All with black the board was spread; Girt by parent, brother, friend,
Long since number'd with the dead!
Alice, in her grave-clothes bound,
All the expected stranger greet.
High their meagre arms they wave,
THE BATTLE OF SEMPACH.
THESE verses are a literal translation of an ancient Swiss ballad upon the Battle of Sempach, fought 9th July, 1386, being the victory by which the Swiss can tons established their independence; the author, Albert Tchudi, denominated the Souter, from his profession of a shoemaker. He was a citizen of Lucerne, esteemed highly among his countrymen, both for his powers as a Meister-Singer, or minstrel, and his courage as a soldier; so that he might share the praise conferred by Collins on Eschylus, that—
Not alone he nursed the poet's flame,
But reach'd from Virtue's hand the patriot steel."
The circumstance of their being written by a poet returning from the well-fought field he describes, and in which his country's fortune was secured, may confer on Tchudi's verses an interest which they are not entitled to claim from their poetical merit. But ballad poetry, the more literally it is translated, the more it loses its simplicity, without acquiring either grace or strength; and therefore some of the faults of the verses must be imputed to the translator's feeling it a duty to keep as closely as possible to his original. The various puns, rude attempts at pleasantry, and disproportioned