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THE BELFRY OF BRUGES.
In the market-place of Bruges stands the belfry
old and brown; Thrice consumed and thrice rebuilded, still it
watches o'er the town.
As the summer morn was breaking, on that lofty
tower I stood, And the world threw off the darkness, like the
weeds of widowhood.
Thick with towns and hamlets studded, and with
streams and vapors gray, Like a shield embossed with silver, round and
vast the landscape lay.
At my feet the city slumbered. From its chim
neys, here and there, Wreaths of snow-white smoke, ascending, van
ished, ghost-like, into air.
Not a sound rose from the city at that early
morning hour, But I heard a heart of iron beating in the ancient
From their nests beneath the rafters sang the
swallows wild and high ; And the world, beneath me sleeping, seemed
more distant than the sky.
Then most musical and solemn, bringing back
the olden times, With their strange, unearthly changes rang the
Like the psalms from some old cloister, when
the nuns sing in the choir ; And the great bell tolled among them, like the
chanting of a friar.
Visions of the days departed, shadowy phantoms
filled my brain ; They who live in history only seemed to walk
the earth again;
All the Foresters of Flanders, — mighty Bald
win Bras de Fer, Lyderick du Bucq and Cressy, Philip, Guy de
I beheld the pageants splendid, that adorned
those days of old; Stately dames, like queens attended, knights who
bore the Fleece of Gold;
Lombard and Venetian merchants with deep
laden argosies ; Ministers from twenty nations; more than royal
pomp and ease.
I beheld proud Maximilian, kneeling humbly on
the ground; I beheld the gentle Mary, hunting with her hawk
And her lighted bridal-chamber, where a duke I beheld the Flemish weavers, with Namur and
slept with the queen, And the armed guard around them, and the
sword unsheathed between.
Juliers bold, Marching homeward from the bloody battle of
the Spurs of Gold;
Saw the fight at Minnewater, saw the White
Hoods moving west, Saw great Artevelde victorious scale the Golden
And again the whiskered Spaniard all the land
with terror smote ; And again the wild alarum sounded from the
tocsin's throat ;
Till the bell of Ghent responded o'er lagoon and
dike of sand, "I am Roland ! I am Roland ! there is victory
in the land !"