It was in times of yore,
that this story did take fold,
High above the Rhine in
the town of Idar-Oberstein.
It is but said there lived two brothers
who never had a fight.
They lived within their castle ruin
both day and night.
Then one day the eldest brother
took for him a wife,
more beautiful than a flower was she
He would love her all his life.
But as fate would have it,
The two would soon be parted.
The husband would become a crusader
not to see his wife till much later.
So in his brother’s care
he did leave his wife
For he trusted his brother
and felt this would be right.
many years did go by and
the younger brother became a man
living with his brother’s wife
was too much for him to stand.
No word was sent to the castle
from the brother who had departed,
it was soon believed that he was dead
so his wife was taken to bed…
And through their union they did find
there love did grow just like a vine,
until one day when darkness struck,
the brother returned, life was amuck.
From his guilt the young brother did please,
for forgiveness for his misdeeds.
But his brother was not thrilled and thus,
the younger brother was killed.
Over the cliff he was thrown,
where he landed would forever be known.
For all the town could surely see,
how sorry the eldest brother had grown.
For where the body had laid,
a chapel was made.
Out of the side of the cliff it did perch,
and it was her that forgiveness the brother did search.
All in the town below did witness,
the sadness of their lives,
the love that had been lost
between two brothers and a wife.
V. Smith 4/7/87
When I lived in West Germany as a teenager, I remembered how intrigued I was by this story and the castles…especially the church on the side of the cliff. In 1987…before the internet, I wrote this poem for a creative writing class. I just came across it and decided to look up the real story on the internet to see how close I was in my memory..here are the facts according to wikipedia:
The Legend of Idar-Oberstein
Felsenkirche (“Crag Church”), a legendary church and symbol of the town
According to legend, there were two noble brothers, Wyrich and Emich, who both fell in love with a beautiful girl named Bertha. The brothers lived at Castle Bosselstein, which stood atop a 135 m-high hill. Bertha was from a noble line that occupied the nearby Lichtenburg Castle.
Neither brother was aware of the other’s feelings for Bertha. When Wyrich, the elder brother, was away on some unknown business, Emich succeeded in securing Bertha’s affections and, subsequently, married her. When Emich announced the news to his brother, Wyrich’s temper got the better of him. In the heat of the moment, he hurled his brother out of a window of the castle and sent him to his death on the rocks below.
Wyrich was almost immediately filled with remorse. With the counsel of a local abbot, he began a long period of penance. At this time, Bertha disappears from the historical record. Many romantics feel that she died of a broken heart.
As Wyrich waited for a heavenly sign showing that he was forgiven, the abbot suggested that he build a church on the exact place where his brother died. Wyrich worked and prayed himself into exhaustion. However, the moment the church was completed, he received his sign: a miraculous spring opened up in the church.
Wyrich died soon after this. When the local bishop came to consecrate the new church, he found the noble lord dead on its steps. Wyrich was later placed in the same tomb with his brother.