Wolfgang Steinmann

Kunigunde and the Violets

 

Near the crystal water fountains,
High up in the Giant Mountains,
Where the raucous raven flies,
Kynast Castle's ruins rise.

“Kunigunde!” caws the raven,
“Long ago this pretty maiden
Leaned against these crumbling walls
Wandered through these empty halls.”

And the raven starts to glide
Down the mountain's ragged side,
Lands amidst the scattered stones
Picking up some withered bones.

“See these bones?” the raven cries:
“Remnants of their sad demise!”
Eyes the ground and eyes the sky
Spreads his feathers out to fly.

But I beg him: “Raven, stop!
Ruins on the mountain top …?
Shattered bones down in the vale …?
Tell me Kunigunde's tale.”

“Ah, she was a pretty maiden,”
Carries on the chatty raven,
“Cared not for humanity,
Gave herself to vanity.

In her chamber sat the lass
Staring in her looking glass.
But her father shook his head:
‘Kunigunde! You shall wed!’

Sent the heralds through the land:
‘Kunigunde's lovely hand
To the Baron, Duke or Earl
Who can tame the selfish girl.’

Came the Baron to the gate
Dressed in gold and silver plate,
Put his hand upon his heart:
‘Death alone shall do us part!’

Kunigunde smiled and said:
‘Welcome are you to my bed.
For my present and reward
Do me just one favor, Lord:

From the meadow over there
Bring a flower for my hair;
Be it yellow, blue or red,
Tulip, rose or violet …’

Perilous the path and narrow
Crossed alone by bolt and arrow -
Winds along the mountain edge
Carved into the craggy ledge.

There – the rider scrambles, stumbles
And the path beneath him crumbles …
And the pretty rose is taken
Horse and rider are forsaken …

From the valley's distant ground
Quivers up a hollow sound,
Echos from the valley wall:
‘Vanity and beauty fall!’

Came the Duke up to the gate
Did not haw or hesitate.
‘You are mine!’ he boldly swore
But the task was as before:

‘From the meadow over there
Bring a flower for my hair;
Be it yellow blue or red
Tulip, rose or violet …’

Rocky is the path and narrow
Crossed alone by hawk and sparrow -
Winds along the mountain edge
Carved into the craggy ledge.

There – the rider scrambles, stumbles
And the path beneath him crumbles …
And the pretty rose is taken
Horse and rider are forsaken …

From the valley's distant ground
Quivers up a hollow sound,
Echos from the valley wall:
‘Vanity and beauty fall!”

Came the Earl up to the gate
Tempting destiny and fate:
‘I will do what e'er you ask!’
Still the same the suitor's task:

‘From the meadow over there
Bring a flower for my hair;
Be it yellow blue or red
Tulip, rose or violet …’

Brittle is the path and narrow
Crossed alone by sow and farrow -
Winds along the mountain edge
Carved into the craggy ledge.

There – the rider scrambles, stumbles
And the path beneath him crumbles …
And the pretty rose is taken
Horse and rider are forsaken …

From the valley's distant ground
Quivers up a hollow sound,
Echos from the valley wall:
‘Vanity and beauty fall!’”

Now the raven stops to feed
On some tasty berry seed.
“Is this all?” I ask. He then
Takes his story up again:

“Here, amid the stones now rest
All who perished in this quest.
Then, one day, in storm and rain
To the gate a beggar came.

Seeking shelter from the squall
Stood the pauper in the hall.
Kunigunde turned him out:
‘See the meadow, filthy lout?

Bear and wolf will keep you warm!
Have you waited out the storm
Pick some flowers, blue or red,
Tulip, rose or violet …’

‘Thank you lady! You are kind!’
And he leaves the halls behind.
Kunigunde in her malice
Chuckles vilely in the palace:

Oh, she does remember well
What the noblemen befell.
But the pauper does not know
Of the shattered bones below.

'cross the rocky path so narrow,
Swifter than a flying arrow
Steered by sparrow, sow and hawk
Sure of foot the poor man's walk.

Not by gravel, rock or dirt
Could the traveler be hurt.
Reached the meadow, bent his knee:
‘Lord Almighty, thanks be thee!’

And he laid with wolf and bear
In the open mountain air.
As the day replaced the night
He beheld a lovely sight:

Roses, daisies, marigold,
Tulips, lilies thousandfold …
Out of all he chose to get
But a simple violet.

Picked it gently, held it fast,
Sheltered it so it would last,
Turned around to find his way
To the castle cold and gray.

There – the pauper scrambles, stumbles
And the path beneath him crumbles …
Firmly holds the flower still
Clasps the other to the hill.

At the castle gate he stands
With the flower in his hands:
‘Dearest lady, don't forget
Simple is the violet.

Does not glitter, does not awe
Grows in summer, fall and thaw,
Seeks not fortune, seeks not fame
But it pleases all the same!’

How the pretty maiden cried!
And she put away her pride,
Took his hand and humbly said:
‘Welcome are you to my bed.’

But he turned and walked away.” -
“Why the ruins? Raven, say!
I must know the story's end!”
“Kunigunde, my dear friend,

Never married, stayed alone;
For her sins she did atone,
To the poor she gave her riches,
Threw her garments to the ditches,

Cared for creatures low and high
Til the day she went to die.
To the rain she gave the halls
To the wind she left the walls.”

Raven says no more and feasts
On the bones of men and beasts.
'round the castle slowly spread
Lavish blooms of violet.

 

All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Wolfgang Steinmann.
Published on e-Stories.org on 06/05/2013.

 

Comments of our readers (1)

Show all reader comments!

Your opinion:

Our authors and e-Stories.org would like to hear your opinion! But you should comment the Poem/Story and not insult our authors personally!

Please choose

Previous title Next title

Does this Poem/Story violate the law or the e-Stories.org submission rules?
Please let us know!

Author: Changes could be made in our members-area!

More from category"General" (Poems)

Other works from Wolfgang Steinmann

Did you like it?
Please have a look at:

The Thane of Evenruud - Wolfgang Steinmann (General)
Chinese Garden - Inge Offermann (General)
Stars - Christiane Mielck-Retzdorff (Life)