True love, knight, as to a brother,
Yield I you again;
Ask me not for any other,
For it gives me pain.
Calmly I behold you come in,
Calm behold you go;
Your sad eyes the weeping dumb in
I nor read nor know.
And he hears her uncomplaining,
Tears him free by force;
To his heart but once her straining,
Flings him on his horse;
Sends to all his vassals merry
In old Switzerland;
To the holy grave they hurry,
White-crossed pilgrim band.
Mighty deeds, the foe outbraving,
Works their hero-arm;
From their helms the plumes float waving
Mid the heathen swarm;
Still his “Toggenburg” upwaking
Frays the Mussulman;
But his heart its grievous aching
Quiet never can.
One whole year he did endure it,
Then his patience lost;
Peace, he never could secure it,
And forsakes the host;
Sees a ship by Joppa’s entry
At her cable saw;
Sails him home to that dear country
Where she breath doth draw.
At the gate, her castle under,
Pilgrim sad, he knocked;
Straight, as with a word of thunder
Was the gate unlocked:
“She you seek, with rites most solemn
Is betrothed to heaven;
Yesterday, beneath that column,
She to Christ was given.”
Then the halls he leaves for ever
Of his ancestors;
Shield or sword sets eyes on never,
Or his faithful horse.
Down from Toggenburg he fareth,
None to see or care;
On his noble limbs he weareth
Sackcloth made of hair:
And himself a hovel buildeth
That same cloister nigh,
Where the lime-tree thicket yieldeth
Cover whence to spy.
There, from morning’s earliest traces
Till red evening shone,
Thither turned his hoping face is,
There he sits alone.
On the walls so high above him,
His eyes waiting hang,
Waiting, though she would not love him,
For her lattice-clang–
Waiting till the loved should send her
Glance into the vale,
And, unthinking, toward it bend her
Then he laid him, sadness scorning,
Comforted to sleep;
Quietly joyous till the morning
Out again should peep.
And so sat he, years a many,
Years without a pang,
Waiting without murmur any
Till her window rang–
For the lovely one to send her
Glance into the vale,
And, unseeing, toward him bend her
Angel visage pale.
And thus sat he, staring wanly,
His last morning there:
Toward her window still the manly
Silent face did stare.