The Carillon.

(Antwerp and Bruges.)


*** In these and others of the Flemish Towns, the Carillon, or chimes which have a most fantastic and delicate music, are played almost continually. The custom is very ancient.

At Antwerp, there is a low wall
Binding the city, and a moat
Beneath, that the wind keeps afloat.
You pass the gates in a slow drawl
Of wheels. If it is warm at all
The Carillon will give you thought.

I climbed the stair in Antwerp church,
What time the urgent weight of sound
At sunset seems to heave it round.
Far up, the Carillon did search
The wind; and the birds came to perch
Far under, where the gables wound.

In Antwerp harbour on the Scheldt
I stood along, a certain space
Of night. The mist was near my face:
Deep on, the flow was heard and felt.
The Carillon kept pause, and dwelt
In music through the silent place.

At Bruges, when you leave the train,
--A singing numbness in your ears,--
The Carillon's first sound appears
Only the inner moil. Again
A little minute though -- your brain
Takes quiet, and the whole sense hears.

John Memmeling and John Van Eyck
Hold state at Bruges. In sore shame
I scanned the works that keep their name.
The Carillon, which then did strike
Mine ears, was heard of theirs alike:
It set me closer unto them.

I climbed at Bruges all the flight
The Belfry has of ancient stone.
For leagues I saw the east wind blown:
The earth was grey, the sky was white.
I stood so near upon the height
That my flesh felt the Carillon.

October, 1849.

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Last modified 5/22/95