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The Forge
by [?]

His heart is granite–his iron nerve
Feels no convulsive twitches;
And as to his foot, it does not swerve,
Tho’ the Screech-Owls are flitting about him that serve
For parrots to Brocken Witches!

Nay, full in his very path he spies
The gleam of the Were Wolf’s horrid eyes;
But if his members quiver–
It is not for that–no, it is not for that
Nor rat,
Nor cat,
As black as your hat,
Nor the snake that hiss’d, nor the toad that spat,
Nor glimmering candles of dead men’s fat,
Nor even the flap of the Vampire Bat,
No anserine skin would rise thereat,
It’s the cold that makes Him shiver!

So down, still down, through gully and glen,
Never trodden by foot of men,
Past the Eagle’s nest and the She-Wolf’s den,
Never caring a jot how steep
Or how narrow the track he has to keep,
Or how wide and deep
An abyss to leap,
Or what may fly, or walk, or creep,
Down he hurries through darkness and storm,
Flapping his arms to keep him warm–
Till threading many a pass abhorrent,
At last he reaches the mountain gorge,
And takes a path along by a torrent–
The very identical path, by St. George!

Down which young Fridolin went to the Forge,
With a message meant for his own death-warrant!

Young Fridolin! young Fridolin!
So free from sauce, and sloth, and sin,
The best of pages
Whatever their ages,
Since first that singular fashion came in–
Not he like those modern and idle young gluttons
With little jackets, so smart and spruce,
Of Lincoln green, sky-blue, or puce–
A little gold lace you may introduce–
Very showy, but as for use,
Not worth so many buttons!

Young Fridolin! young Fridolin!
Of his duty so true a fulfiller–
But here we need no farther go
For whoever desires the Tale to know,
May read it all in Schiller.

Faster now the Traveller speeds,
Whither his guiding beacon leads.
For by yonder glare
In the murky air,
He knows that the Eisen Hutte is there!
With its sooty Cyclops, savage and grim
Hosts, a guest had better forbear,
Whose thoughts are set upon dainty fare–
But stiff with cold in every limb,
The Furnace Fire is the bait for Him!

Faster and faster still he goes.
Whilst redder and redder the welkin glows,
And the lowest clouds that scud in the sky
Get crimson fringes in flitting by.
Till lo! amid the lurid light,
The darkest object intensely dark,
Just where the bright is intensely bright,
The Forge, the Forge itself is in sight,
Like the pitch-black hull of a burning bark,
With volleying smoke, and many a spark,
Vomiting fire, red, yellow, and white!

Restless, quivering tongues of flame!
Heavenward striving still to go,
While others, reversed in the stream, below,
Seem seeking a place we will not name,
But well that Traveller knows the same,
Who stops and stands,
So rubbing his hands,
And snuffing the rare
Perfumes in the air,
For old familiar odors are there,
And then direct by the shortest cut,
Like Alpine Marmot, whom neither rut,
Rivers, rocks, nor thickets rebut,
Makes his way to the blazing Hut!


Idly watching the Furnace-flames,
The men of the stithy
Are in their smithy,
Brutal monsters, with bulky frames,
Beings Humanity scarcely claims,
But hybrids rather of demon race,
Unbless’d by the holy rite of grace,
Who never had gone by Christian names,
Mark, or Matthew, Peter, or James–
Naked, foul, unshorn, unkempt,
From touch of natural shame exempt,
Things of which Delirium has dreamt–
But wherefore dwell on these verbal sketches,
When traced with frightful truth and vigor,
Costume, attitude, face, and figure,
Retsch has drawn the very wretches!