A Heidelberg Poem

by Jack Kelso

Philosopher’s Walk Hath Given Us An Age
(We sit on a bench below the northern
hills of Heidelberg, above the river;
a VOICE, yet not ours):
Holy Mountain began a pebble in an eye
before ideas Kant had yet pretended.

Here
the skeleton death
of a once kinged blood-head
still darks to sip
as Master of Wines.
So we part by the kiln
where no longer smell his ashes.

Here
lime-moss steps line out
to a steined tower
leading to a pageant dream where
a slice of cloud
and half a sky before us turn
to words said
a thousand ways
in centuries
by thousands of another mind.

Here
one gross alchemist
bore an art four hundred
paling winters and winter’s
storms have finally deadened.
Now our pale brown Neckar River
carries under its old old eggs
of late Romanticism.

Here
and in that day
shouts of clearing water
spaced through Heine’s verse,
embraced Eichendorff’s pretty poesie,
cut shrill rock
into unseeded hills
and was sipped by all poor burghers.
You meek Easter sun gave little food then
and the abbot still sits unheard
in monastery hiding.

Here
glass-stilled late late winter birch
statued and sloped to balance
is keen gray wonder to artists’ staves
where Schumann studied
where Beethoven walked
where Schopenhauer professed.
And higher yet, near mountaintop,
a stone engraved there rests.
No man recalls where died the Stephanus Kloster.

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