Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ROMANCERO: BOOK 1. HISTORIES: THE APOLLO GOD, by HEINRICH HEINE

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ROMANCERO: BOOK 1. HISTORIES: THE APOLLO GOD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The convent stands high on the rocky steep
Last Line: "head-dress, they 'the green sow' call her."
Subject(s): Apollo; Clothing & Dress; Goddesses & Gods; Mythology; Mythology - Classical; Rhine (river), Europe; Singing & Singers; Songs

THE convent stands high on the rocky steep,
The Rhine beneath it glistens;
The youthful nun doth eagerly peep
Through the lattice window, and listens.

A bark of fable is sailing past,
By the evening glow tinged brightly;
While chequer'd pennons stream from the mast,
With laurels and flowers crown'd lightly.

Amid-ship stands a beauteous youth,
With flowing auburn tresses;
Of very ancient cut, in truth,
His gold and purple dress is.

Before his feet nine women lie,
Of marble-lovely graces;
A tunic fair and loop'd up high
Each slender form embraces.

The golden-tress'd one sweetly sings,
And likewise plays his lyre;
The song the poor nun's bosom stings,
And sets it all on fire.

She makes a cross, and once again
The nun repeats the measure;
The cross scares not her blissful pain,
Nor checks her bitter pleasure.


I AM the god of music bright,
Revered in every nation;
In Greece, on Mount Parnassus' height,
My temple had its station.

In Greece I oft have sat and play'd
On famed Parnassus' mountain,
Beneath the cypress' pleasant shade,
Beside Castalia's fountain.

My daughters sat around their Pa,
And raised a vocal chorus;
They sweetly sang: la-la, la-la!
While laughter floated o'er us.

The bugle rang: tra-ra, tra-ra!
From out the forest loudly;
There hunted Artemisia,
My little sister, proudly.

And whensoe'er I took some sips, --
I can't describe it neatly, --
From out Castalia's fount, my lips
Burst into music sweetly.

I sang -- my lyre, as it replied,
O'er its own chords seem'd sweeping;
I felt as if I Daphne spied
Behind the laurels peeping.

I sang -- ambrosial incense stream'd,
And lightly o'er me hover'd;
And the whole world around me seem'd
By a bright halo cover'd.

A thousand years from Grecia's land
Have I been sadly banish'd;
Yet hath my heart in Grecia's land
Remain'd, though I have vanish'd.


IN the costume of the Beguins,
In the cloak with cap upon it
Of the coarsest blackest serge,
Is the youthful nun envelop'd.

Hastily along the Rhine banks
Paces she adown the highway
On the road to Holland, asking
Eagerly of every passer:

"Hast thou chanced to see Apollo?
"He a scarlet cloak is wearing,
"Sweetly sings he, plays the lyre,
"And he is my darling idol."

None will answer her inquiry,
Many turn their backs in silence,
Many stare upon her smiling,
Many sigh: "Alas, poor creature!"

But along the highway trotting
Comes a slovenly old man;
Making figures in the air, he
Keeps on singing through his nose.

He a clumsy wallet carries,
And a little hat three-corner'd,
And with sharp and smiling eyes he
Listens to the nun's inquiry:

"Hast thou chanced to see Apollo?
"He a scarlet cloak is wearing,
"Sweetly sings he, plays the lyre,
"And he is my darling idol."

He however gave this answer,
Whilst his little head he waggled
Here and there, and comically
At his sharp beard kept on twitching:

"Have I chanced to see Apollo?
"Yes, I certainly have seen him
"When at Amsterdam full often,
"In the German synagogue.

"He was there the leading singer,
"Known by name of Rabbi Faibisch,
"Which in High-Dutch means Apollo, --
"But he's not my idol truly.

"Scarlet cloak? His scarlet cloak too
"I remember; genuine scarlet,
"And the price per ell eight florins, --
"Not all paid for to this moment.

"His old father, Moses Jitscher,
"Know I well; he's circumciser
"To the Portuguese, I fancy,
"And to various sovereigns also.

"And his mother is a cousin
"Of my sister's husband, trading
"On the Gracht in pickled gherkins,
"And in worn-out pairs of breeches.

"In their son they take no pleasure;
"On the lyre he plays not badly,
"But, I grieve to say, far better
"Plays he at taroc and ombre.

"He is likewise a free thinker,
"Lost his place through eating swine a flesh,
"And then travell'd round the country
"With some painted low comedians.

"In the shops and on the markets
"Has he acted as Jack-pudding,
"Holofernes, or King David,
"But the latter most excell'd in.

"For the king's own sorrows sang he
"In the king's own mother language,
"Giving all the proper quavers
"In the proper olden fashion.

"Recently some wenches took he
"From the Amsterdam casino,
"And he's travelling with these Muses
"Round the country as Apollo.

"One amongst them is a stout one,
"Squeaking very much and grunting
"On account of her green laurel
"Head-dress, they 'the green sow' call her.

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