The Northern Way

Song and Legend From the Middle Ages

German Literature

Page 12

There sat upon the linden-tree

A bird and sang its strain;

So sweet it sang, that, as I heard,

My heart went back again:

It went to one remembered spot,

I saw the rose-trees grow,

And thought again the thoughts of love

There cherished long ago.

A thousand years to me it seems

Since by my fair I sat,

Yet thus to have been a stranger long

Was not my choice, but fate:

Since then I have not seen the flowers,

Nor heard the birds' sweet song;

My joys have all too briefly passed,

My griefs been all too long.

-------Tr. by Taylor.


Early thirteenth century


Under the linden

On the meadow

Where our bed arranged was,

There now you may find e'en

In the shadow

Broken flowers and crushed grass.

Near the woods, down in the vale


Sweetly sang the nightingale.

I, poor sorrowing one,

Came to the prairie,

Look, my lover had gone before.

There he recieved me---

Gracious Mary!---

That now with bliss I am brimming o'er.

Kissed he me? Ah, thousand hours!


See my mouth, how red it flowers!

Then 'gan he making

Oh! so cheery,

From flowers a couch most rich outspread.

At which outbreaking

In laughter merry

You'll find, whoe'er the path does tread.

By the rose he can see


Where my head lay cozily.

How he caressed me

Knew it one ever

God defend! ashamed I'd be.

Whereto he pressed me

No, no, never

Shall any know it but him and me

And a birdlet on the tree


Sure we can trust it, cannot we?

------Tr. by Kroeger.


Sweet love of Holy Spirit

Direct sick mind and steer it,

God, who the first didst rear it,

Protect thou Christendom.

Its lies of pleasure barren

No rose blooms more in Sharon;

Comfort of all th' ill-starren,

Oh! help dispel the gloom!

Keep, Savior, from all ill us!

We long for the bounding billows,

Thy Spirit's love must thrill us,

Repentant hearts' true friend.

Thy blood for us thou'st given,

Unlocked the gates of heaven.

Now strive we as we've striven

To gain the blessed land.

Our wealth and blood grows thinner;

God yet will make us winner

Gainst him, who many a sinner

Holds pawned in his hand.


God keep thy help us sending,

With thy right hand aid lending,

Protect us till the ending

When at last our soul us leaves,

From hell-fires' flaming clamor

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