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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Castle in Austria

By Clemens Brentano (1778–1842)

From ‘The Boy’s Wonderhorn’

THERE lies a castle in Austria,

Right goodly to behold,

Walled up with marble stones so fair,

With silver and with red gold.

Therein lies captive a young boy,

For life and death he lies bound,

Full forty fathoms under the earth,

’Midst vipers and snakes around.

His father came from Rosenberg,

Before the tower he went:—

“My son, my dearest son, how hard

Is thy imprisonment!”

“O father, dearest father mine,

So hardly I am bound,

Full forty fathoms under the earth,

’Midst vipers and snakes around!”

His father went before the lord:—

“Let loose thy captive to me!

I have at home three casks of gold,

And these for the boy I’ll gi’e.”

“Three casks of gold, they help you not:

That boy, and he must die!

He wears round his neck a golden chain;

Therein doth his ruin lie.”

“And if he thus wear a golden chain,

He hath not stolen it; nay!

A maiden good gave it to him

For true love, did she say.”

They led the boy forth from the tower,

And the sacrament took he:—

“Help thou, rich Christ, from heaven high,

It’s come to an end with me!”

They led him to the scaffold place,

Up the ladder he must go:—

“O headsman, dearest headsman, do

But a short respite allow!”

“A short respite I must not grant;

Thou wouldst escape and fly:

Reach me a silken handkerchief

Around his eyes to tie.”

“Oh, do not, do not bind mine eyes!

I must look on the world so fine;

I see it to-day, then never more,

With these weeping eyes of mine.”

His father near the scaffold stood,

And his heart, it almost rends:—

“O son, O thou my dearest son,

Thy death I will avenge!”

“O father, dearest father mine!

My death thou shalt not avenge:

’Twould bring to my soul but heavy pains;

Let me die in innocence.

“It is not for this life of mine,

Nor for my body proud;

’Tis but for my dear mother’s sake:

At home she weeps aloud.”

Not yet three days had passed away,

When an angel from heaven came down:

“Take ye the boy from the scaffold away;

Else the city shall sink under ground!”

And not six months had passed away,

Ere his death was avenged amain;

And upwards of three hundred men

For the boy’s life were slain.

Who is it that hath made this lay,

Hath sung it, and so on?

That, in Vienna in Austria,

Three maidens fair have done.