The Wartburg (Martin Luther 1521-22)

The garden where he broods is like a riddle.
The circle of the gravel walk,
The sundial which is stationed in the middle,
A poppy on its hairy stalk:
These are like clues from which may be inferred
Imperatives of the Almighty's Word.

And nature veils, he thinks, a master plan.
Where hunters feel the woods grow level,
The hare the two dogs savage is frail Man,
The two dogs are the Pope and Devil;
And in the wind that courses through the forest,
He hears the pure truth the first angels chorused.

Odd, how his genius courts expectancy,
And views life as a text it's read.
Yet others, seeking God in all they see,
Not finding Him, will claim He's dead,
Or will descry false gods when history slips
Into a fraudulent Apocalypse.

This lies, however, centuries away.
The present prospect is of hills,
The garden which he walks in, day by day,
Leisure he restlessly fulfills,
While far below the fortress, the cascade
Drifts its cold white breath through the gorge's shade.

If everything's arranged, then even doubt
Is simply a predestined mood;
And thus he justifies, as he works out,
His doctrines and his solitude,
Gaining conviction while he frets and grieves
Till, one gray dawn in early March, he leaves.

Even this last scene's ambiguously spliced:
The bridge creaks down, he rides across;
His mount's as humble as the mount of Christ;
And, see, out there above the Schloss,
A widening band of chimney smoke is curled
Vaguely downwind, toward the modern world.

by Timothy Steele

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