THERE stands an ancient castle
On yonder mountain height,
Where, fenced with door and portal,
Once tarried steed and knight.
But gone are door and portal,
And all is hushed and still;
O’er ruined wall and rafter
I clamber as I will.
A cellar with many a vintage
Once lay in yonder nook;
Where now are the cellarer’s flagons
And where is his jovial look?
No more he sets the beakers
For the guests at the wassail feast;
Nor fills a flask from the oldest cask
For the duties of the priest.
No more he gives on the staircase
The stoup to the thirsty squires,
And a hurried thanks for the hurried gift
Receives, nor more requires.
For burned are roof and rafter,
And they hang begrimed and black;
And stair, and hall, and chapel,
Are turned to dust and wrack.
Yet, as with song and cittern,
One day when the sun was bright,
I saw my love ascending
The slopes of yon rocky height;
From the hush and the desolation
Sweet fancies did unfold,
And it seemed as they had come back again,
The jovial days of old.
As if the stateliest chambers
For noble guests were spread,
And out from the prime of that glorious time
A youth a maiden led.
And, standing in the chapel,
The good old priest did say,
“Will ye wed with one another?”
And we smiled and answered “Yea!”
We sung, and our hearts they bounded
To the thrilling lays we sung,
And every note was doubled
By the echo’s catching tongue.
And when, as eve descended,
The hush grew deep and still,
And the setting sun looked upward
On that great castled hill;
Then far and wide, like lord and bride,
In the radiant light we shone—
It sank; and again the ruins
Stood desolate and alone.
Written 1803, translation by John Storer Cobb, first published 1902.