In the city of Cracow, in one of the chapels of the cathedral, a mass is
perpetually saying for the souls of the kings or Poland. This has now
continued for some centuries; and a foundation exists to ensure its
continuation for ever.
A hallow’d fane 1
Adorns the plain2
Where Cracow’s towers arise,3
Beneath whose dome,4
In his narrow tomb,5
Each crowned Jagellon lies.6
Within those walls 7
The dim light falls 8
On an aged churchman’s head,9
Who recites alone,10
In hollow tone,11
The litanies of the dead.12
’Neath the burning ray 13
Of the summer’s day 14
Which the longest sees the sun,15
By the bright moonlight 16
Of the winter’s night,17
Still glides that requiem on.18
The ceaseless stave 19
Sounds through the nave,20
As the weary chanter sings 21
For the kings whose bones 22
Lie beneath the stones,23
For the ancient Polish kings.24
Ages have fled25
Since among the dead 26
Those monarchs’ heads were laid;27
Yet of masses to save 28
Their souls in the grave,29
The debt is yet unpaid!30
Sarmatia’s sway 31
Has passed away,32
Her star is set in night;33
Of her long-passed reigns 34
No trace remains,35
Save this solitary rite.36
Aye, and still, though all 37
In this world must fall,38
And nations be no more,39
Shall that solemn chime,40
To the end of time,41
Be for ever chanted o’er.42