"THOU has asked me for my portrait,
But I will not grant thy prayer.
I'm not worthy of thine easel;
I am neither great nor fair," -
Said a poet to a painter
In the dreamy days of old,
When the substance of my story
By a better tongue was told.
But the painter urged his comrade
That he should present his face
In the hall, amidst the portraits
Of his old and noble race.
And at last the friend's entreaty
Brought the much-desired permit;
But a strange, unholy message
Were the words he spake; to wit: -
"When the tomb has housed and kept me
For the space of twenty days,
Thou canst paint the wished-for portrait
Of my body as it lays."
When the tomb had called the poet,
And the twenty days were o'er,
Faithful to the very moment
Ruprecht waited at the door.
And within, in richest velvets,
On a marble couch he lay,
With his bowels all burst open
And his face half eaten away.
And his portrait there was painted
As within the tomb he lay,
And was hung up in his castle,
Where it hangeth to this day.