Heine's Grave

Matthew Arnold

"Henri Heine"— 't is here!
The black tombstone, the name
Carved there, — no more! and the smooth,
Swarded alleys, the limes
Touched with yellow by hot
Summer, but under them still
In September's bright afternoon
Shadow and verdure and cool!
Trim Montmartre! the faint
Murmur of Paris outside;
Crisp everlasting-flowers,
Yellow and black, on the graves.

Half blind, palsied, in pain,
Hither to come, from the streets'
Uproar, surely not loath
Wast thou, Heine!— to lie
Quiet! to ask for closed
Shutters, and darkened room.
And cool drinks, and an eased
Posture, and opium, no more!
Hither to come, and to sleep
Under the wings of Renown.

Ah! not little, when pain
Is most quelling, and man
Easily quelled, and the fine
Temper of genius alive
Quickest to ill, is the praise
Not to have yielded to pain!
No small boast, for a weak
Sou of mankind, to the earth
Pinned by the thunder, to rear
His bolt-scathed front to the stars;
And, undaunted, retort
'Gainst thick-crashing, insane,
Tyrannous tempests of bale.
Arrowy lightnings of soul!

Hark! through the alley resounds
Mocking laughter! A film
Creeps o'er the sunshine; a breeze
Ruffles the warm afternoon,
Saddens my soul with its chill.
Gibing of spirits in scorn
Shakes every leaf of the grove.
Mars the benignant repose
Of this amiable home of the dead.

Bitter spirits! ye claim
Heine? —Alas, he is yours!
Only a moment I longed
Here in the quiet to snatch
From such mates the outworn
Poet, and steep him in calm.
Only a moment! I knew
Whose he was who is here
Buried, I knew he was yours!
Ah, I knew that I saw
Here no sepulchre built
In the laurelled rock, o'er the blue
Naples bay, for a sweet
Tender Virgil! no tomb
On Ravenna sands, in the shade
Of Ravenna pines, for a high
Austere Dante! no grave
By the Avon side, in the bright
Stratford meadows, for thee,
Shakespeare! loveliest of souls,
Peerless in radiance, in joy.

Henirich Heine (1797-1856) was one of the greatest lyric poets in the German language. He is buried in Montmartre Cemetery. His tombstone is topped by a magnificent bust of Heine, carved by Louis Hasselriis.