'Nuremberg' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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In the valley of the Pegnitz, where across broad meadow-lands
Rise the blue Franconian mountains, Nuremberg, the ancient,
Quaint old town of toil and traffic, quaint old town of art and
Memories haunt thy pointed gables, like the rooks that round them
Memories of the Middle Ages, when the emperors, rough and bold,
Had their dwelling in thy castle, time-defying, centuries old;
And thy brave and thrifty burghers boasted, in their uncouth
That their great imperial city stretched its hand through every
In the court-yard of the castle, bound with many an iron hand,
Stands the mighty linden planted by Queen Cunigunde's hand;
On the square the oriel window, where in old heroic days
Sat the poet Melchior singing Kaiser Maximilian's praise.
Everywhere I see around me rise the wondrous world of Art:
Fountains wrought with richest sculpture standing in the common
And above cathedral doorways saints and bishops carved in stone,
By a former age commissioned as apostles to our own.
In the church of sainted Sebald sleeps enshrined his holy dust,
And in bronze the Twelve Apostles guard from age to age their
In the church of sainted Lawrence stands a pix of sculpture rare,
Like the foamy sheaf of fountains, rising through the painted
Here, when Art was still religion, with a simple, reverent heart,
Lived and labored Albrecht Durer, the Evangelist of Art;
Hence in silence and in sorrow, toiling still with busy hand,
Like an emigrant he wandered, seeking for the Better Land.
Emigravit is the inscription on the tombstone where he lies;
Dead he is not, but departed,--for the artist never dies.
Fairer seems the ancient city, and the sunshine seems more fair,
That he once has trod its pavement, that he once has breathed its
Through these streets so broad and stately, these obscure and
Walked of yore the Mastersingers, chanting rude poetic strains.
From remote and sunless suburbs came they to the friendly guild,
Building nests in Fame's great temple, as in spouts the swallows
As the weaver plied the shuttle, wove he too the mystic rhyme,
And the smith his iron measures hammered to the anvil's chime;
Thanking God, whose boundless wisdom makes the flowers of poesy
In the forge's dust and cinders, in the tissues of the loom.
Here Hans Sachs, the cobbler-poet, laureate of the gentle craft,
Wisest of the Twelve Wise Masters, in huge folios sang and
But his house is now an ale-house, with a nicely sanded floor,
And a garland in the window, and his face above the door;
Painted by some humble artist, as in Adam Puschman's song,
As the old man gray and dove-like, with his great beard white and
And at night the swart mechanic comes to drown his cark and care,
Quaffing ale from pewter tankard; in the master's antique chair.
Vanished is the ancient splendor, and before my dreamy eye
Wave these mingled shapes and figures, like a faded tapestry.
Not thy Councils, not thy Kaisers, win for thee the world's
But thy painter, Albrecht Durer, and Hans Sachs thy cobbler-bard.
Thus, O Nuremberg, a wanderer from a region far away,
As he paced thy streets and court-yards, sang in thought his
Gathering from the pavement's crevice, as a floweret of the soil,
The nobility of labor,--the long pedigree of toil.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Nuremberg: A Masterpiece of Poetic Imagination
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Nuremberg," a poem of 103 stanzas, is a tour de force of poetic imagination that vividly evokes the medieval city of Nuremberg in Germany. The poem, first published in 1857, is a celebration of the city's rich cultural heritage, its Gothic architecture, and its famous personalities, such as the artist Albrecht Dürer and the poet Hans Sachs. It is also a meditation on the transience of human life, the inexorable march of time, and the enduring power of art to transcend the limitations of mortality.
Longfellow's poetic genius is evident from the first stanza of the poem, which sets the scene of the city in all its grandeur:
In the valley of the Pegnitz, where across broad meadow-lands Rise the blue Franconian mountains, Nuremberg, the ancient, Stands.
The masterful use of imagery, the rhythm of the lines, and the use of an archaic language all contribute to creating a sense of awe and wonder that draws the reader into the poem. Longfellow's attention to detail is remarkable, as he describes the city's landmarks, such as the Castle, the Church of St. Sebaldus, and the Fountain of Justice, with an eye for their historical and cultural significance.
But what makes "Nuremberg" truly remarkable is Longfellow's ability to use the city as a metaphor for the human condition. The poem is filled with references to the passing of time, the inevitability of death, and the fragility of human existence. Longfellow reminds us that the great buildings and monuments that we admire today will one day crumble into dust, and that the people who built them will be forgotten. Yet, he also suggests that there is something eternal and unchanging about human creativity and the human spirit. As he writes in one of the most memorable lines of the poem:
Art is long, and Time is fleeting, And our hearts, though stout and brave, Still, like muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the grave.
Longfellow's use of the word "Art" is significant, as it suggests a belief in the power of creative expression to transcend the limitations of mortality. The poem is peppered with references to famous artists, such as Dürer and Sachs, who are celebrated for their ability to create works of enduring beauty that will outlast the passing of time. Longfellow suggests that these artists are a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and that their works are a way of achieving a kind of immortality.
But "Nuremberg" is not just a celebration of art and culture. It is also a critique of the forces that threaten to destroy them. Longfellow is keenly aware of the social and political upheavals that were sweeping Europe in the mid-19th century, and he uses the poem as a way of warning against the dangers of war and conflict. He describes the city of Nuremberg as a bastion of peace and stability in a world of chaos and violence, and he suggests that it is this commitment to culture and creativity that makes the city so special. As he writes:
Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State! Sail on, O Union, strong and great! Humanity with all its fears, With all the hopes of future years, Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
Longfellow's message is clear: we must do everything in our power to preserve the cultural achievements of the past, and to build a better future for generations to come. "Nuremberg" is a powerful reminder of the enduring power of art and culture, and of the need for all of us to do our part in preserving and promoting them.
In conclusion, "Nuremberg" is a masterpiece of poetic imagination that celebrates the city's rich cultural heritage, while also serving as a meditation on the transience of human life and the enduring power of art to transcend it. Longfellow's use of imagery, rhythm, and language is masterful, and his attention to detail is remarkable. But what makes the poem truly special is its message of hope and resilience, and its call to action to preserve and promote the cultural achievements of the past. "Nuremberg" is a testament to the enduring power of art and culture, and a reminder of the importance of cherishing them for generations to come.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Nuremberg: A Masterpiece of Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the most celebrated poets of the 19th century, is known for his exceptional ability to weave words into beautiful and meaningful poems. His works have been widely read and appreciated, and one such masterpiece is "Poetry Nuremberg." This poem is a tribute to the art of poetry and the city of Nuremberg, which was known for its artistic and cultural heritage.
The poem begins with the speaker describing the city of Nuremberg as a place where the "ancient walls and towers" stand tall, and the "bells of the churches" ring out in harmony. The city is depicted as a place where art and culture thrive, and where the people are proud of their heritage. The speaker then goes on to describe the "Poet's Corner," a place where poets gather to share their works and inspire each other.
The poem then takes a turn, as the speaker begins to describe the power of poetry. He says that poetry has the ability to "charm the senses and the soul," and that it can "rouse the passions and the heart." The speaker goes on to say that poetry can bring people together, and that it can inspire them to do great things. He says that poetry is a "voice of the people," and that it can be used to express their hopes, dreams, and aspirations.
The poem then shifts back to the city of Nuremberg, as the speaker describes the "Poet's Fountain." This fountain is a symbol of the power of poetry, and it is said to have been created by the "magic of the poet's art." The speaker describes the fountain as a place where poets come to draw inspiration, and where they can find the courage to express themselves.
The poem then ends with the speaker calling on all poets to come to Nuremberg, to gather at the "Poet's Corner," and to share their works with each other. He says that poetry is a universal language, and that it can bring people together, regardless of their differences. The poem ends with the speaker saying that poetry is a "gift from the gods," and that it should be cherished and celebrated.
Longfellow's "Poetry Nuremberg" is a beautiful tribute to the art of poetry and the city of Nuremberg. The poem is filled with vivid imagery and powerful language, and it captures the essence of what poetry is all about. Longfellow's use of language is masterful, and he is able to convey the power of poetry in a way that is both inspiring and moving.
One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its use of imagery. Longfellow paints a vivid picture of the city of Nuremberg, with its ancient walls and towers, and its bustling streets. He also uses imagery to describe the power of poetry, saying that it can "rouse the passions and the heart," and that it can bring people together.
Another notable aspect of the poem is its use of language. Longfellow's words are carefully chosen, and he is able to convey the power and beauty of poetry in a way that is both eloquent and accessible. His use of language is particularly effective in the final stanza of the poem, where he calls on all poets to come to Nuremberg and share their works with each other.
Overall, Longfellow's "Poetry Nuremberg" is a masterpiece of poetry. It is a tribute to the power of poetry and the city of Nuremberg, and it is a testament to Longfellow's skill as a poet. The poem is a reminder of the importance of art and culture in our lives, and it is a call to all poets to continue to create and share their works with the world.
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