The Busts of Goethe and Schiller

The Busts of Goethe and Schiller
by William Allen Butler

The Busts of Goethe and Schiller

This is GOETHE, with a forehead
    Like the fabled front of Jove;
  In its massive lines the tokens
    More of majesty than love.

  This is SCHILLER, in whose features,
    With their passionate calm regard,
  We behold the true ideal
    Of the high heroic Bard,

  Whom the inward world of feeling
    And the outward world of sense
  To the endless labor summon,
    And the endless recompense.

  These are they, sublime and silent,
    From whose living lips have rung
  Words to be remembered ever
    In the noble German tongue:

  Thoughts whose inspiration, kindling
   Into loftiest speech or song,
  Still through all the listening ages
    Pours its torrent swift and strong.

  As to-day in sculptured marble
    Side by side the Poets stand,
  So they stood in life's great struggle,
    Side by side and hand to hand,

  In the ancient German city,
    Dowered with many a deathless name,
  Where they dwelt and toiled together,
    Sharing each the other's fame:

  One till evening's lengthening shadows
    Gently stilled his faltering lips,
  But the other's sun at noonday
    Shrouded in a swift eclipse.

  There their names are household treasures,
    And the simplest child you meet
  Guides you where the house of Goethe
    Fronts upon the quiet street;

  And, hard by, the modest mansion
    Where full many a heart has felt
  Memories uncounted clustering
    Round the words, "Here Schiller dwelt."

  In the churchyard both are buried,
    Straight beyond the narrow gate,
  In the mausoleum sleeping
    With Duke Charles in sculptured state.

  For the Monarch loved the Poets,
    Called them to him from afar,
  Wooed them near his court to linger,
    And the planets sought the star.

  He, his larger gifts of fortune
    With their larger fame to blend,
  Living, counted it an honor
    That they named him as their friend;

  Dreading to be all-forgotten,
    Still their greatness to divide,
  Dying, prayed to have his Poets
    Buried one on either side.

  But this suited not the gold-laced
    Ushers of the royal tomb,
  Where the princely House of Weimar
    Slumbered in majestic gloom.

  So they ranged the coffins justly,
    Each with fitting rank and stamp,
  And with shows of court precedence
    Mocked the grave's sepulchral damp.

  Fitly now the clownish sexton
    Narrow courtier-rules rebukes;
  First he shows the grave of Goethe,
    Schiller's next, and last--the Duke's.

  Vainly 'midst these truthful shadows
    Pride would daunt her painted wing;
  Here the Monarch waits in silence,
    And the Poet is the King!

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.