Billeder på siden


How fled what moonshine faintly show'd!

How fled what darkness hid!

How fled the earth beneath their feet,

The heaven above their head!


"Dost fear? dost fear? The moon shines clear

And well the dead can ride;

Does faithful Helen fear for them?"—–

“O leave in peace the dead!"


"Barb! Barb! methinks I hear the cock;

The sand will soon be run:

Barb! Barb! I smell the morning air;
The race is well nigh done."-


Tramp! tramp! along the land they rode,
Splash! splash! along the sea;

The scourge is red, the spur drops blood,
The flashing pebbles flee.


"Hurrah! hurrah! well ride the dead;
The bride, the bride is come;.

And soon we reach the bridal bed,
For, Helen, here's my home."-


Reluctant on its rusty hinge

Revolved an iron door,

And by the pale moon's setting beam
Were seen a church and tower.


With many a shriek and cry whiz round
The birds of midnight, scared;
And rustling like autumnal leaves
Unhallow'd ghosts were heard.


O'er many a tomb and tombstone pale
He spurr'd the fiery horse,

Till sudden at an open grave

He check'd the wondrous course.


The falling gauntlet quits the rein,
Down drops the casque of steel,
The cuirass leaves his shrinking side,
The spur his gory heel.


The eyes desert the naked skull,
The mould'ring flesh the bone,
Till Helen's lily arms entwine
A ghastly skeleton.


The furious barb snorts fire and foam,

And, with a fearful bound, Dissolves at once in empty air,

And leaves her on the ground.


Half seen by fits, by fits half heard,

Pale spectres flit along,

Wheel round the maid in dismal dance,

And howl the funeral song;

VOL. I.24


"E'en when the heart's with anguish cleft,

Revere the doom of Heaven.

Her soul is from her body rest;
Her spirit be forgiven!"


THIS is a translation, or rather an imitation, of the Wilde Jäger of the German poet Bürger. The tradition upon which it is founded bears, that formerly a Wildgrave, or keeper of a royal forest, named Faulkenburg, was so much addicted to the pleasures of the chase, and otherwise so extremely profligate and cruel, that he not only followed this unhallowed amusement on the Sabbath, and other days consecrated to religious duty, but accompanied it with the most unheard-of oppression upon the poor peasants, who were under his vassalage. When this second Nimrod died, the people adopted a superstition, founded probably on the many various uncouth sounds heard in the depth of a German forest, during the silence of the night. They conceived they still heard the cry of the Wildgrave's hounds; and the well-known cheer of the deceased hunter, the sounds of his horses' feet, and the rustling of the branches before the game, the pack, and the sportsmen, are also distinctly discriminated; but the phantoms are rarely, if ever, visible. Once, as a benighted Chasseur heard this infernal chase pass by him, at the sound of the halloo, with which the Spectre Huntsman cheered his hounds, he could not refrain from crying, "Gluck zu, Falkenburgh!" [Good sport to ye, Falkenburgh!] "Dost thou wish me good sport?" answered a hoarse

voice; "thou shalt share the game;" and there was thrown at him what seemed to be a huge piece of foul carrion. The daring Chasseur lost two of his best horses soon after, and never perfectly recovered the personal effects of this ghostly greeting. This tale, though told with some variations, is universally believed all over Germany.

The French had a similar tradition concerning an aërial hunter, who infested the forest of Fountainbleau. He was sometimes visible; when he appeared as a huntsman, surrounded with dogs, a tall grisly figure. Some account of him may be found in "Sully's Memoirs," who says he was called Le Grand Veneur. At one time he chose to hunt so near the palace, that the attendants, and, if I mistake not, Sully himself, came out into the court, supposing it was the sound of the king returning from the chase. This phantom is elsewhere called Saint Hubert

The superstition seems to have been very general, as appears from the following fine poetical description of this phantom chase, as it was heard in the wilds of Ross-shire.

“Ere since, of old, the haughty thanes of Ross,-
So to the simple swain tradition tells,-

Were wont with clans, and ready vassals throng'd,
To wake the bounding stag, or guilty wolf,
There oft is heard, at midnight, or at noon,
Beginning faint, but rising still more loud,
And nearer, voice of hunters, and of hounds,

And horns, hoarse winded, blowing far and keen:-
Forthwith the hubbub multiplies; the gale

Labours with wilder shrieks, and rifer din

Of hot pursuit; the broken cry of deer

Mangled by throttling dogs; the shouts of men,
And hoofs, thick beating on the hollow hill.
Sudden the grazing heifer in the vale

Starts at the noise, and both the herdsman's ears

« ForrigeFortsæt »