"Five years ago I vowed to Heaven upon my falchion
To build the tower; and to this hour my vow hath not
"When from the eagle's nest I snatched my
And in my breast shaped her a nest, safe and
warm-lined with love,
"Not all the bells in Christendom, if rung with
That happy day in janglings gay had told my joy
"As up the aisle my bride I led in that triumphant
I ached to hear some wedding-cheer clash from the
"Nor chime nor tower the minster had; so in my soul
Come loss, come let, that I would set church-bells
"Before a twelvemonth. But ye know what forays lamed
How seasons went, and wealth was spent, and all were
weak of hand.
"And then the yearly harvest failed ('twas when my
boy was born);
But could I build while vassals filled my ears with
cries for corn?
"Thereafter happed the heaviest woe, and none could
help or save;
Nor was there bell to toll a knell above my Hertha's
"Ah, had I held my vow supreme all hinderance to
Maybe these woes—God knows! God
knows!—had never crushed my soul.
"Ev'n now ye beg that I give o'er: ye say the scant
Of water fails in lowland vales, and
mountain-springs are dry.
"'Here be the quarried stones' (ye grant), 'skilled
craftsmen come at call;
But with no more of water-store how can we
build the wall?'
"Nay, listen: Last year's vintage crowds our
cellars, tun on tun:
With wealth of wine for yours and mine, dare the
work go undone?
"Quick! bring them forth, these mighty butts: let
none be elsewhere sold,
And I will pay this very day their utmost worth in
"That so the mortar that cements each stone within
For her dear sake whom God did take, may all be
mixed with wine."
'Twas thus the baron built his tower; and, as the
A fragrance rare bewitched the air whene'er they
rang the bells.
A merrier music tinkled down when harvest-days were
They seemed to chime at vintage-time a catch of
And when the vats were foamed with must, if any
The minster tower at vesper hour, above him he would
Tinglings, as of subsiding trills, athwart the
And every draught of air he quaffed would taste of