Part 4 out of 11
This one more golden burden.
"I sing, like birds of blithesome note,
That in the branches dwell;
The song that rises from the throat
Repays the minstrel well.
One boon I'd crave, if not too bold--
One bumper in a cup of gold
Be as my guerdon given."
The bowl he raised, the bowl he quaff'd:
"Oh drink, with solace fraught!
Oh, house thrice-blest, where such a draught
A trifling gift is thought!
When Fortune smiles, remember me,
And as I thank you heartily,
As warmly thank ye Heaven!"
OF THE BANISHED AND RETURNING COUNT.
[Goethe began to write an opera called Lowenstuhl, founded upon
the old tradition which forms the subject of this Ballad, but he
never carried out his design.]
OH, enter old minstrel, thou time-honour'd one!
We children are here in the hall all alone,
The portals we straightway will bar.
Our mother is praying, our father is gone
To the forest, on wolves to make war.
Oh sing us a ballad, the tale then repeat,
'Till brother and I learn it right;
We long have been hoping a minstrel to meet,
For children hear tales with delight.
"At midnight, when darkness its fearful veil weaves,
His lofty and stately old castle he leaves,
But first he has buried his wealth.
What figure is that in his arms one perceives,
As the Count quits the gateway by stealth?
O'er what is his mantle so hastily thrown?
What bears he along in his flight?
A daughter it is, and she gently sleeps on"--
The children they hear with delight.
"The morning soon glimmers. the world is so wide,
In valleys and forests a home is supplied,
The bard in each village is cheer'd.
Thus lives he and wanders, while years onward glide,
And longer still waxes his beard;
But the maiden so fair in his arms grows amain,
'Neath her star all-protecting and bright,
Secured in the mantle from wind and from rain--"
The children they hear with delight.
"And year upon year with swift footstep now steals,
The mantle it fades, many rents it reveals,
The maiden no more it can hold.
The father he sees her, what rapture he feels!
His joy cannot now be controll'd.
How worthy she seems of the race whence she springs,
How noble and fair to the sight!
What wealth to her dearly-loved father she brings!"--
The children they hear with delight.
"Then comes there a princely knight galloping by,
She stretches her hand out, as soon as he's nigh,
But alms he refuses to give.
He seizes her hand, with a smile in his eye:
'Thou art mine!' he exclaims, 'while I live!'
'When thou know'st,' cries the old man, 'the treasure that's
A princess thou'lt make her of right;
Betroth'd be she now, on this spot green and fair--'"
The children they hear with delight.
"So she's bless'd by the priest on the hallowed place,
And she goes with a smiling but sorrowful face,
From her father she fain would not part.
The old man still wanders with ne'er-changing pace,
He covers with joy his sad heart.
So I think of my daughter, as years pass away,
And my grandchildren far from my sight;
I bless them by night, and I bless them by day"--
The children they hear with delight.
He blesses the children: a knocking they hear,
The father it is! They spring forward in fear,
The old man they cannot conceal--
"Thou beggar, wouldst lure, then, my children so dear?
Straight seize him, ye vassals of steel!
To the dungeon most deep, with the fool-hardy knave!"
The mother from far hears the fight;
She hastens with flatt'ring entreaty to crave--
The children they hear with delight.
The vassals they suffer the Bard to stand there,
And mother and children implore him to spare,
The proud prince would stifle his ire,
'Till driven to fury at hearing their prayer,
His smouldering anger takes fire:
"Thou pitiful race! Oh, thou beggarly crew!
Eclipsing my star, once so bright!
Ye'll bring me destruction, ye sorely shall rue!"
The children they hear with affright.
The old man still stands there with dignified mien,
The vassals of steel quake before him, I ween,
The Count's fury increases in power;
"My wedded existence a curse long has been,
And these are the fruits from that flower!
'Tis ever denied, and the saying is true,
That to wed with the base-born is right;
The beggar has borne me a beggarly crew,--"
The children they hear with affright.
"If the husband, the father, thus treats you with scorn,
If the holiest bonds by him rashly are torn,
Then come to your father--to me!
The beggar may gladden life's pathway forlorn,
Though aged and weak he may be.
This castle is mine! thou hast made it thy prey,
Thy people 'twas put me to flight;
The tokens I bear will confirm what I say"--
The children they hear with delight.
"The king who erst govern'd returneth again,
And restores to the Faithful the goods that were ta'en,
I'll unseal all my treasures the while;
The laws shall be gentle, and peaceful the reign"--
The old man thus cries with a smile--
"Take courage, my son! all hath turned out for good,
And each hath a star that is bright,
Those the princess hath borne thee are princely in blood,"--
The children thy hear with delight.
UPON the mead a violet stood,
Retiring, and of modest mood,
In truth, a violet fair.
Then came a youthful shepherdess,
And roam'd with sprightly joyousness,
And blithely woo'd
With carols sweet the air
"Ah!" thought the violet, "had I been
For but the smallest moment e'en
Nature's most beauteous flower,
'Till gather'd by my love, and press'd,
When weary, 'gainst her gentle breast,
For e'en, for e'en
One quarter of an hour!"
Alas! alas! the maid drew nigh,
The violet failed to meet her eye,
She crush'd the violet sweet.
It sank and died, yet murmur'd not:
"And if I die, oh, happy lot,
For her I die,
And at her very feet!"
THE FAITHLESS BOY.
THERE was a wooer blithe and gay,
A son of France was he,--
Who in his arms for many a day,
As though his bride were she,
A poor young maiden had caress'd,
And fondly kiss'd, and fondly press'd,
And then at length deserted.
When this was told the nut-brown maid,
Her senses straightway fled;
She laugh'd and wept, and vow'd and pray'd,
And presently was dead.
The hour her soul its farewell took,
The boy was sad, with terror shook,
Then sprang upon his charger.
He drove his spurs into his side,
And scour'd the country round;
But wheresoever he might ride,
No rest for him was found.
For seven long days and nights he rode,
It storm'd, the waters overflow'd,
It bluster'd, lighten'd, thunder'd.
On rode he through the tempest's din,
Till he a building spied;
In search of shelter crept he in,
When he his steed had tied.
And as he groped his doubtful way,
The ground began to rock and sway,--
He fell a hundred fathoms.
When he recover'd from the blow,
He saw three lights pass by;
He sought in their pursuit to go,
The lights appear'd to fly.
They led his footsteps all astray,
Up, down, through many a narrow way
Through ruin'd desert cellars.
When lo! he stood within a hall,
With hollow eyes. and grinning all;
They bade him taste the fare.
A hundred guests sat there.
He saw his sweetheart 'midst the throng,
Wrapp'd up in grave-clothes white and long;
She turn'd, and----*
(* This ballad is introduced in Act II. of Claudine of Villa
Bella, where it is suddenly broken off, as it is here.)
WHO rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp'd in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.
"My son, wherefore seek'st thou thy face thus to hide?"
"Look, father, the Erl-King is close by our side!
Dost see not the Erl-King, with crown and with train?"
"My son, 'tis the mist rising over the plain."
"Oh, come, thou dear infant! oh come thou with me!
Full many a game I will play there with thee;
On my strand, lovely flowers their blossoms unfold,
My mother shall grace thee with garments of gold."
"My father, my father, and dost thou not hear
The words that the Erl-King now breathes in mine ear?"
"Be calm, dearest child, 'tis thy fancy deceives;
'Tis the sad wind that sighs through the withering leaves."
"Wilt go, then, dear infant, wilt go with me there?
My daughters shall tend thee with sisterly care
My daughters by night their glad festival keep,
They'll dance thee, and rock thee, and sing thee to sleep."
"My father, my father, and dost thou not see,
How the Erl-King his daughters has brought here for me?"
"My darling, my darling, I see it aright,
'Tis the aged grey willows deceiving thy sight."
"I love thee, I'm charm'd by thy beauty, dear boy!
And if thou'rt unwilling, then force I'll employ."
"My father, my father, he seizes me fast,
Full sorely the Erl-King has hurt me at last."
The father now gallops, with terror half wild,
He grasps in his arms the poor shuddering child;
He reaches his courtyard with toil and with dread,--
The child in his arms finds he motionless, dead.
[To the memory of an excellent and beautiful girl of 17,
belonging to the village of Brienen, who perished on the 13th of
January, 1809, whilst giving help on the occasion of the breaking
up of the ice on the Rhine, and the bursting of the dam of
THE DAM BREAKS DOWN, THE ICE-PLAIN GROWLS,
THE FLOODS ARISE, THE WATER HOWLS.
"I'll bear thee, mother, across the swell,
'Tis not yet high, I can wade right well."
"Remember us too! in what danger are we!
Thy fellow-lodger, and children three!
The trembling woman!--Thou'rt going away!"
She bears the mother across the spray.
"Quick! haste to the mound, and awhile there wait,
I'll soon return, and all will be straight.
The mound's close by, and safe from the wet;
But take my goat too, my darling pet!"
THE DAM DISSOLVES, THE ICE-PLAIN GROWLS,
THE FLOODS DASH ON, THE WATER HOWLS.
She places the mother safe on the shore;
Fair Susan then turns tow'rd the flood once more.
"Oh whither? Oh whither? The breadth fast grows,
Both here and there the water o'erflows.
Wilt venture, thou rash one, the billows to brave?"
"THEY SHALL, AND THEY MUST BE PRESERVED FROM THE WAVE!"
THE DAM DISAPPEARS, THE WATER GROWLS,
LIKE OCEAN BILLOWS IT HEAVES AND HOWLS.
Fair Susan returns by the way she had tried,
The waves roar around, but she turns not aside;
She reaches the mound, and the neighbour straight,
But for her and the children, alas, too late!
THE DAM DISAPPEAR'D,--LIKE A SEA IT GROWLS,
ROUND THE HILLOCK IN CIRCLING EDDIES IT HOWLS.
The foaming abyss gapes wide, and whirls round,
The women and children are borne to the ground;
The horn of the goat by one is seized fast,
But, ah, they all must perish at last!
Fair Susan still stands-there, untouch'd by the wave;
The youngest, the noblest, oh, who now will save?
Fair Susan still stands there, as bright as a star,
But, alas! all hope, all assistance is far.
The foaming waters around her roar,
To save her, no bark pushes off from the shore.
Her gaze once again she lifts up to Heaven,
Then gently away by the flood she is driven.
NO DAM, NO PLAIN! TO MARK THE PLACE
SOME STRAGGLING TREES ARE THE ONLY TRACE.
The rushing water the wilderness covers,
Yet Susan's image still o'er it hovers.--
The water sinks, the plains re-appear.
Fair Susan's lamented with many a tear,--
May he who refuses her story to tell,
Be neglected in life and in death as well!
THE waters rush'd, the waters rose,
A fisherman sat by,
While on his line in calm repose
He cast his patient eye.
And as he sat, and hearken'd there,
The flood was cleft in twain,
And, lo! a dripping mermaid fair
Sprang from the troubled main.
She sang to him, and spake the while:
"Why lurest thou my brood,
With human wit and human guile
From out their native flood?
Oh, couldst thou know how gladly dart
The fish across the sea,
Thou wouldst descend, e'en as thou art,
And truly happy be!
"Do not the sun and moon with grace
Their forms in ocean lave?
Shines not with twofold charms their face,
When rising from the wave?
The deep, deep heavens, then lure thee not,--
The moist yet radiant blue,--
Not thine own form,--to tempt thy lot
'Midst this eternal dew?"
The waters rush'd, the waters rose,
Wetting his naked feet;
As if his true love's words were those,
His heart with longing beat.
She sang to him, to him spake she,
His doom was fix'd, I ween;
Half drew she him, and half sank he,
And ne'er again was seen.
THE KING OF THULE.*
(* This ballad is also introduced in Faust, where it is sung by
IN Thule lived a monarch,
Still faithful to the grave,
To whom his dying mistress
A golden goblet gave.
Beyond all price he deem'd it,
He quaff'd it at each feast;
And, when he drain'd that goblet,
His tears to flow ne'er ceas'd.
And when he felt death near him,
His cities o'er he told,
And to his heir left all things,
But not that cup of gold.
A regal banquet held he
In his ancestral ball,
In yonder sea-wash'd castle,
'Mongst his great nobles all.
There stood the aged reveller,
And drank his last life's-glow,--
Then hurl'd the holy goblet
Into the flood below.
He saw it falling, filling,
And sinking 'neath the main,
His eyes then closed for ever,
He never drank again.
THE BEAUTEOUS FLOWER.
SONG OF THE IMPRISONED COUNT.
I KNOW a flower of beauty rare,
Ah, how I hold it dear!
To seek it I would fain repair,
Were I not prison'd here.
My sorrow sore oppresses me,
For when I was at liberty,
I had it close beside me.
Though from this castle's walls so steep
I cast mine eyes around,
And gaze oft from the lofty keep,
The flower can not be found.
Whoe'er would bring it to my sight,
Whether a vassal he, or knight,
My dearest friend I'd deem him.
I blossom fair,--thy tale of woes
I hear from 'neath thy grate.
Thou doubtless meanest me, the rose.
Poor knight of high estate!
Thou hast in truth a lofty mind;
The queen of flowers is then enshrin'd,
I doubt not, in thy bosom.
Thy red, in dress of green array'd,
As worth all praise I hold;
And so thou'rt treasured by each maid
Like precious stones or gold.
Thy wreath adorns the fairest face
But still thou'rt not the flower whose grace
I honour here in silence.
The rose is wont with pride to swell,
And ever seeks to rise;
But gentle sweethearts love full well
The lily's charms to prize,
The heart that fills a bosom true,
That is, like me, unsullied too,
My merit values duly.
In truth, I hope myself unstain'd,
And free from grievous crime;
Yet I am here a prisoner chain'd,
And pass in grief my time,
To me thou art an image sure
Of many a maiden, mild and pure,
And yet I know a dearer.
That must be me, the pink, who scent
The warder's garden here;
Or wherefore is he so intent
My charms with care to rear?
My petals stand in beauteous ring,
Sweet incense all around I fling,
And boast a thousand colours.
The pink in truth we should not slight,
It is the gardener's pride
It now must stand exposed to light,
Now in the shade abide.
Yet what can make the Count's heart glow
Is no mere pomp of outward show;
It is a silent flower.
Here stand I, modestly half hid,
And fain would silence keep;
Yet since to speak I now am bid,
I'll break my silence deep.
If, worthy Knight, I am that flower,
It grieves me that I have not power
To breathe forth all my sweetness.
The violet's charms I prize indeed,
So modest 'tis, and fair,
And smells so sweet; yet more I need
To ease my heavy care.
The truth I'll whisper in thine ear:
Upon these rocky heights so drear,
I cannot find the loved one.
The truest maiden 'neath the sky
Roams near the stream below,
And breathes forth many a gentle sigh,
Till I from hence can go.
And when she plucks a flow'ret blue,
And says "Forget-me-not!"--I, too,
Though far away, can feel it.
Ay, distance only swells love's might,
When fondly love a pair;
Though prison'd in the dungeon's night,
In life I linger there
And when my heart is breaking nigh,
"Forget-me-not!" is all I cry,
And straightway life returneth.
SIR CURT'S WEDDING-JOURNEY.
WITH a bridegroom's joyous bearing,
Mounts Sir Curt his noble beast,
To his mistress' home repairing,
There to hold his wedding feast;
When a threatening foe advances
From a desert, rocky spot;
For the fray they couch their lances,
Not delaying, speaking not.
Long the doubtful fight continues,
Victory then for Curt declares;
Conqueror, though with wearied sinews,
Forward on his road he fares.
When he sees, though strange it may be,
Something 'midst the foliage move;
'Tis a mother, with her baby,
Stealing softly through the grove!
And upon the spot she beckons--
"Wherefore, love, this speed so wild?
Of the wealth thy storehouse reckons,
Hast thou nought to give thy child!"
Flames of rapture now dart through him,
And he longs for nothing more,
While the mother seemeth to him
Lovely as the maid of yore.
But he hears his servants blowing,
And bethinks him of his bride;
And ere long, while onward going,
Chances past a fair to ride;
In the booths he forthwith buys him
For his mistress many a pledge;
But, alas! some Jews surprise him,
And long-standing debts allege.
And the courts of justice duly
Send the knight to prison straight.
Oh accursed story, truly!
For a hero, what a fate!
Can my patience such things weather?
Great is my perplexity.
Women, debts, and foes together,--
Ah, no knight escapes scot free!
THE tale of the Count our glad song shall record
Who had in this castle his dwelling,
Where now ye are feasting the new-married lord,
His grandson of whom we are telling.
The Count as Crusader had blazon'd his fame,
Through many a triumph exalted his name,
And when on his steed to his dwelling he came,
His castle still rear'd its proud head,
But servants and wealth had all fled.
'Tis true that thou, Count, hast return'd to thy home,
But matters are faring there ill.
The winds through the chambers at liberty roam,
And blow through the windows at will
What's best to be done in a cold autumn night?
Full many I've pass'd in more piteous plight;
The morn ever settles the matter aright.
Then quick, while the moon shines so clear,
To bed on the straw, without fear,
And whilst in a soft pleasing slumber he lay,
A motion he feels 'neath his bed.
The rat, an he likes it, may rattle away!
Ay, had he but crumbs there outspread!
But lo! there appears a diminutive wight,
A dwarf 'tis, yet graceful, and bearing a light,
With orator-gestures that notice invite,
At the feet of the Count on the floor
Who sleeps not, though weary full sore.
"We've long been accustom'd to hold here our feast,
Since thou from thy castle first went;
And as we believed thou wert far in the East,
To revel e'en now we were bent.
And if thou'lt allow it, and seek not to chide,
We dwarfs will all banquet with pleasure and pride,
To honour the wealthy, the beautiful bride
Says the Count with a smile, half-asleep;--
"Ye're welcome your quarters to keep!"
Three knights then advance, riding all in a group,
Who under the bed were conceal'd;
And then is a singing and noise-making troop
Of strange little figures reveal'd;
And waggon on waggon with all kinds of things--
The clatter they cause through the ear loudly rings--
The like ne'er was seen save in castles of kings;
At length, in a chariot of gold,
The bride and the guests too, behold!
Then all at full gallop make haste to advance,
Each chooses his place in the hall;
With whirling and waltzing, and light joyous dance,
They begin with their sweethearts the ball.
The fife and the fiddle all merrily sound,
Thy twine, and they glide, and with nimbleness bound,
Thy whisper, and chatter, and, chatter around;
The Count on the scene casts his eye,
And seems in a fever to lie.
They hustle, and bustle, and rattle away
On table, on bench, and on stool;
Then all who had joined in the festival gay
With their partners attempt to grow cool.
The hams and the sausages nimbly they bear,
And meat, fish, and poultry in plenty are there,
Surrounded with wine of the vintage most rare:
And when they have revell'd full long,
They vanish at last with a song.
* * * * * *
And if we're to sing all that further occurr'd,
Pray cease ye to bluster and prate;
For what he so gladly in small saw and heard
He enjoy'd and he practis'd in great.
For trumpets, and singing, and shouts without end
On the bridal-train, chariots and horsemen attend,
They come and appear, and they bow and they bend,
In merry and countless array.
Thus was it, thus is it to-day.
ALL my weary days I pass'd
Sick at heart and poor in purse.
Poverty's the greatest curse,
Riches are the highest good!
And to end my woes at last,
Treasure-seeking forth I sped.
"Thou shalt have my soul instead!"
Thus I wrote, and with my blood.
Ring round ring I forthwith drew,
Wondrous flames collected there,
Herbs and bones in order fair,
Till the charm had work'd aright.
Then, to learned precepts true,
Dug to find some treasure old,
In the place my art foretold
Black and stormy was the night.
Coming o'er the distant plain,
With the glimmer of a star,
Soon I saw a light afar,
As the hour of midnight knell'd.
Preparation was in vain.
Sudden all was lighted up
With the lustre of a cup
That a beauteous boy upheld.
Sweetly seem'd his eves to laugh
Neath his flow'ry chaplet's load;
With the drink that brightly glow'd,
He the circle enter'd in.
And he kindly bade me quaff:
Then methought "This child can ne'er,
With his gift so bright and fair,
To the arch-fiend be akin."
"Pure life's courage drink!" cried he:
"This advice to prize then learn,--
Never to this place return
Trusting in thy spells absurd;
Dig no longer fruitlessly.
Guests by night, and toil by day!
Weeks laborious, feast-days gay!
Be thy future magic-word!
I AM the bard known far and wide,
The travell'd rat-catcher beside;
A man most needful to this town,
So glorious through its old renown.
However many rats I see,
How many weasels there may be,
I cleanse the place from ev'ry one,
All needs must helter-skelter run.
Sometimes the bard so full of cheer
As a child-catcher will appear,
Who e'en the wildest captive brings,
Whene'er his golden tales he sings.
However proud each boy in heart,
However much the maidens start,
I bid the chords sweet music make,
And all must follow in my wake.
Sometimes the skilful bard ye view
In the form of maiden-catcher too;
For he no city enters e'er,
Without effecting wonders there.
However coy may be each maid,
However the women seem afraid,
Yet all will love-sick be ere long
To sound of magic lute and song.
[Da Capo.] 1803.*
As I calmly sat and span,
Toiling with all zeal,
Lo! a young and handsome man
Pass'd my spinning-wheel.
And he praised,--what harm was there?--
Sweet the things he said--
Praised my flax-resembling hair,
And the even thread.
He with this was not content,
But must needs do more;
And in twain the thread was rent,
Though 'twas safe before.
And the flax's stonelike weight
Needed to be told;
But no longer was its state
Valued as of old.
When I took it to the weaver,
Something felt I start,
And more quickly, as with fever,
Throbb'd my trembling heart.
Then I bear the thread at length
Through the heat, to bleach;
But, alas, I scarce have strength
To the pool to reach.
What I in my little room
Span so fine and slight,--
As was likely. I presume--
Came at last to light.
BEFORE A COURT OF JUSTICE.
THE father's name ye ne'er shall be told
Of my darling unborn life;
"Shame, shame," ye cry, "on the strumpet bold!"
Yet I'm an honest wife.
To whom I'm wedded, ye ne'er shall be told,
Yet he's both loving and fair;
He wears on his neck a chain of gold,
And a hat of straw doth he wear.
If scorn 'tis vain to seek to repel,
On me let the scorn be thrown.
I know him well, and he knows me well,
And to God, too, all is known.
Sir Parson and Sir Bailiff, again,
I pray you, leave me in peace!
My child it is, my child 'twill remain,
So let your questionings cease!
THE PAGE AND THE MILLER'S DAUGHTER.
WHERE goest thou? Where?
Miller's daughter so fair!
Thy name, pray?--
Where goest thou? Where?
With the rake in thy hand?
Father's meadows and land
To visit, I'm busy.
Dost go there alone?
By this rake, sir, 'tis shown
That we're making the hay;
And the pears ripen fast
In the garden at last,
So I'll pick them to-day.
Is't a silent thicket I yonder view?
Oh, yes! there are two;
There's one on each side.
I'll follow thee soon;
When the sun burns at noon
We'll go there, o'urselves from his rays to hide,
And then in some glade all-verdant and deep--
Why, people would say--
Within mine arms thou gently wilt sleep.
Your pardon, I pray!
Whoever is kiss'd by the miller-maid,
Upon the spot must needs be betray'd.
'Twould give me distress
To cover with white
Your pretty dark dress.
Equal with equal! then all is right!
That's the motto in which I delight.
I am in love with the miller-boy;
He wears nothing that I could destroy.
THE YOUTH AND THE MILLSTREAM.
[This sweet Ballad, and the one entitled The Maid of the Mill's
Repentance, were written on the occasion of a visit paid by Goethe
to Switzerland. The Maid of the Mill's Treachery, to which the
latter forms the sequel, was not written till the following year.]
SAY, sparkling streamlet, whither thou
With joyous mien thy waters now
Why seek the vale so hastily?
Attend for once, and answer me!
Oh youth, I was a brook indeed;
My bed they've deepen'd, and my speed
That I may haste to yonder mill.
And so I'm full and never still.
The mill thou seekest in a mood
And know'st not how my youthful blood
But doth the miller's daughter fair
Gaze often on thee kindly there?
She opes the shutters soon as light
And comes to bathe her features bright
So full and snow-white is her breast,--
I feel as hot as steam suppress'd.
If she in water can inflame
Surely, then, flesh and blood to tame
When once is seen her beauteous face,
One ever longs her steps to trace.
Over the wheel I, roaring, bound,
And ev'ry spoke whirls swiftly round,
Since I have seen the miller's daughter,
With greater vigour flows the water.
Like others, then, can grief, poor brook,
"Flow on!"--thus she'll, with smiling look,
With her sweet loving glance, oh say,
Can she thy flowing current stay?
'Tis sad, 'tis sad to have to speed
I wind, and slowly through the mead
And if the choice remain'd with me,
Would hasten back there presently.
Farewell, thou who with me dost prove
Perchance some day thou'lt breathe of love
Go, tell her straight, and often too,
The boy's mute hopes and wishes true.
THE MAID OF THE MILL'S TREACHERY.
[This Ballad is introduced in the Wanderjahre, in a tale called
The Foolish Pilgrim.]
WHENCE comes our friend so hastily,
When scarce the Eastern sky is grey?
Hath he just ceased, though cold it be,
In yonder holy spot to pray?
The brook appears to hem his path,
Would he barefooted o'er it go?
Why curse his orisons in wrath,
Across those heights beclad with snow?
Alas! his warm bed he bath left,
Where he had look'd for bliss, I ween;
And if his cloak too, had been reft,
How fearful his disgrace had been!
By yonder villain sorely press'd,
His wallet from him has been torn;
Our hapless friend has been undress'd,
Left well nigh naked as when born.
The reason why he came this road,
Is that he sought a pair of eyes,
Which, at the mill, as brightly glow'd
As those that are in Paradise.
He will not soon again be there;
From out the house he quickly hied,
And when he gain'd the open air,
Thus bitterly and loudly cried
"Within her gaze, so dazzling bright,
No word of treachery I could read;
She seem'd to see me with delight,
Yet plann'd e'en then this cruel deed!
Could I, when basking in her smile,
Dream of the treason in her breast?
She bade kind Cupid stay awhile,
And he was there, to make us blest.
"To taste of love's sweet ecstasy
Throughout the night, that endless seem'd,
And for her mother's help to cry
Only when morning sunlight beam'd!
A dozen of her kith and kin,
A very human flood, in-press'd
Her cousins came, her aunts peer'd in,
And uncles, brothers, and the rest.
"Then what a tumult, fierce and loud!
Each seem'd a beast of prey to be;
The maiden's honour all the crowd,
With fearful shout, demand of me.
Why should they, madmen-like, begin
To fall upon a guiltless youth?
For he who such a prize would win,
Far nimbler needs must be, in truth.
"The way to follow up with skill
His freaks, by love betimes is known:
He ne'er will leave, within a mill,
Sweet flowers for sixteen years alone.--
They stole my clothes away,--yes, all!
And tried my cloak besides to steal.
How strange that any house so small
So many rascals could conceal!
"Then I sprang up, and raved, and swore,
To force a passage through them there.
I saw the treacherous maid once more,
And she was still, alas, so fair
They all gave way before my wrath,
Wild outcries flew about pell-mell;
At length I managed to rush forth,
With voice of thunder, from that hell.
"As maidens of the town we fly,
We'll shun you maidens of the village;
Leave it to those of quality
Their humble worshippers to pillage.
Yet if ye are of practised skill,
And of all tender ties afraid,
Exchange your lovers, if ye will,
But never let them be betray'd."
Thus sings he in the winter-night,
While not a blade of grass was green.
I laugh'd to see his piteous plight,
For it was well-deserved, I ween.
And may this be the fate of all,
Who treat by day their true loves ill,
And, with foolhardy daring, crawl
By night to Cupid's treacherous mill!
THE MAID OF THE MILL'S REPENTANCE.
AWAY, thou swarthy witch! Go forth
From out my house, I tell thee!
Or else I needs must, in my wrath,
What's this thou singest so falsely, forsooth,
Of love and a maiden's silent truth?
Who'll trust to such a story!
I sing of a maid's repentant fears,
And long and bitter yearning;
Her levity's changed to truth and tears
She dreads no more the threats of her mother,
She dreads far less the blows of her brother,
Than the dearly loved-one's hatred.
Of selfishness sing and treacherous lies,
Of murder and thievish plunder!
Such actions false will cause no surprise,
When they share their booty, both clothes and purse,--
As bad as you gipsies, and even worse,
Such tales find ready credence.
"Alas, alas! oh what have I done?
Can listening aught avail me?
I hear him toward my room hasten on,
To hail me.
My heart beat high, to myself I said:
'O would that thou hadst never betray'd
That night of love to thy mother!'"
Alas! I foolishly ventured there,
For the cheating silence misled me;
Ah, sweetest! let me to thee repair,--
Nor dread me!
When suddenly rose a fearful din,
Her mad relations came pouring in.
My blood still boils in my body!
"Oh when will return an hour like this?
I pine in silent sadness;
I've thrown away my only true bliss
Alas, poor maid! O pity my youth!
My brother was then full cruel in troth
To treat the loved one so basely!"
The swarthy woman then went inside,
To the spring in the courtyard yonder;
Her eyes from their stain she purified,
Her face and eyes were radiant and bright,
And the maid of the mill was disclosed to the sight
Of the startled and angry stripling!
THE MAID OF THE MILL.
Thou sweetest, fairest, dearly-loved life!
Before thine anger I cower;
But blows I dread not, nor sharp-edged knife,--
Of sorrow and love to thee I'll sing,
And myself before thy feet I'll fling,
And either live or die there!
Affection, say, why buried so deep
In my heart hast thou lain hidden?
By whom hast thou now to awake from thy sleep
Ah love, that thou art immortal I see!
Nor knavish cunning nor treachery
Can destroy thy life so godlike.
THE MAID OF THE MILL.
If still with as fond and heartfelt love,
As thou once didst swear, I'm cherish'd,
Then nought of the rapture we used to prove
So take the woman so dear to thy breast!
In her young and innocent charms be blest,
For all are thine from henceforward!
Now, sun, sink to rest! Now, sun, arise!
Ye stars, be now shining, now darkling!
A star of love now gleams in the skies,
As long as the fountain may spring and run,
So long will we two be blended in one,
Upon each other's bosoms!
THE TRAVELLER AND THE FARM~MAIDEN.
CANST thou give, oh fair and matchless maiden,
'Neath the shadow of the lindens yonder,--
Where I'd fain one moment cease to wander,--
Food and drink to one so heavy laden?
Wouldst thou find refreshment, traveller weary,
Bread, ripe fruit and cream to meet thy wishes,--
None but Nature's plain and homely dishes,--
Near the spring may soothe thy wanderings dreary.
Dreams of old acquaintance now pass through me,
Ne'er-forgotten queen of hours of blisses.
Likenesses I've often found, but this is
One that quite a marvel seemeth to me!
Travellers often wonder beyond measure,
But their wonder soon see cause to smother;
Fair and dark are often like each other,
Both inspire the mind with equal pleasure.
Not now for the first time I surrender
To this form, in humble adoration;
It was brightest midst the constellation
In the hail adorn'd with festal splendour.
Be thou joyful that 'tis in my power
To complete thy strange and merry story!
Silks behind her, full of purple glory,
Floated, when thou saw'st her in that hour.
No, in truth, thou hast not sung it rightly!
Spirits may have told thee all about it;
Pearls and gems they spoke of, do not doubt it,--
By her gaze eclipsed,--it gleam'd so brightly!
This one thing I certainly collected:
That the fair one--(say nought, I entreat thee!)
Fondly hoping once again to meet thee,
Many a castle in the air erected.
By each wind I ceaselessly was driven,
Seeking gold and honour, too, to capture!
When my wand'rings end, then oh, what rapture,
If to find that form again 'tis given!
'Tis the daughter of the race now banish'd
That thou seest, not her likeness only;
Helen and her brother, glad though lonely,
Till this farm of their estate now vanish'd.
But the owner surely is not wanting
Of these plains, with ev'ry beauty teeming?
Verdant fields, broad meads, and pastures gleaming,
Gushing springs, all heav'nly and enchanting.
Thou must hunt the world through, wouldst thou find him!--
We have wealth enough in our possession,
And intend to purchase the succession,
When the good man leaves the world behind him.
I have learnt the owner's own condition,
And, fair maiden, thou indeed canst buy it;
But the cost is great, I won't deny it,--
Helen is the price,--with thy permission!
Did then fate and rank keep us asunder,
And must Love take this road, and no other?
Yonder comes my dear and trusty brother;
What will he say to it all, I wonder?
EFFECTS AT A DISTANCE.
THE queen in the lofty hall takes her place,
The tapers around her are flaming;
She speaks to the page: "With a nimble pace
Go, fetch me my purse for gaming.
'Tis lying, I'll pledge,
On my table's edge."
Each nerve the nimble boy straineth,
And the end of the castle soon gaineth.
The fairest of maidens was sipping sherbet
Beside the queen that minute;
Near her mouth broke the cup,--and she got so wet!
The very devil seem'd in it
What fearful distress
'Tis spoilt, her gay dress.
She hastens, and ev'ry nerve straineth,
And the end of the castle soon gaineth.
The boy was returning, and quickly came,
And met the sorrowing maiden;
None knew of the fact,--and yet with Love's flame,
Those two had their hearts full laden.
And, oh the bliss
Of a moment like this!
Each falls on the breast of the other,
With kisses that well nigh might smother.
They tear themselves asunder at last,
To her chamber she hastens quickly,
To reach the queen the page hies him fast,
Midst the swords and the fans crowded thickly.
The queen spied amain
On his waistcoat a stain;
For nought was inscrutable to her,
Like Sheba's queen--Solomon's wooer.
To her chief attendant she forthwith cried
"We lately together contended,
And thou didst assert, with obstinate pride,
That the spirit through space never wended,--
That traces alone
By the present were shown,--
That afar nought was fashion'd--not even
By the stars that illumine you heaven.
"Now see! while a goblet beside me they drain'd,
They spilt all the drink in the chalice;
And straightway the boy had his waistcoat stain'd
At the furthermost end of the palace.--
Let them newly be clad!
And since I am glad
That it served as a proof so decided,
The cost will by me be provided."
THE WALKING BELL
A CHILD refused to go betimes
To church like other people;
He roam'd abroad, when rang the chimes
On Sundays from the steeple.
His mother said: "Loud rings the bell,
Its voice ne'er think of scorning;
Unless thou wilt behave thee well,
'Twill fetch thee without warning."
The child then thought: "High over head
The bell is safe suspended--"
So to the fields he straightway sped
As if 'twas school-time ended.
The bell now ceas'd as bell to ring,
Roused by the mother's twaddle;
But soon ensued a dreadful thing!--
The bell begins to waddle.
It waddles fast, though strange it seem;
The child, with trembling wonder,
Runs off, and flies, as in a dream;
The bell would draw him under.
He finds the proper time at last,
And straightway nimbly rushes
To church, to chapel, hastening fast
Through pastures, plains, and bushes.
Each Sunday and each feast as well,
His late disaster heeds he;
The moment that he bears the bell,
No other summons needs he.
"OH, would we were further! Oh, would we were home,
The phantoms of night tow'rd us hastily come,
The band of the Sorceress sisters.
They hitherward speed, and on finding us here,
They'll drink, though with toil we have fetch'd it, the beer,
And leave us the pitchers all empty."
Thus speaking, the children with fear take to flight,
When sudden an old man appears in their sight:
"Be quiet, child! children, be quiet!
From hunting they come, and their thirst they would still,
So leave them to swallow as much as they will,
And the Evil Ones then will be gracious."
As said, so 'twas done! and the phantoms draw near,
And shadowlike seem they, and grey they appear,
~Yet blithely they sip and they revel
The beer has all vanish'd, the pitchers are void;
With cries and with shouts the wild hunters, o'erjoy'd,
Speed onward o'er vale and o'er mountain.
The children in terror fly nimbly tow'rd home,
And with them the kind one is careful to come:
"My darlings, oh, be not so mournful!--
"They'll blame us and beat us, until we are dead."--
"No, no! ye will find that all goes well," he said;
"Be silent as mice, then, and listen!
"And he by whose counsels thus wisely ye're taught,
Is he who with children loves ever to sport.
The trusty and faithful old Eckart.
Ye have heard of the wonder for many a day,
But ne'er had a proof of the marvellous lay,--
Your hands hold a proof most convincing."
They arrive at their home, and their pitchers they place
By the side of their parents, with fear on their face,
Awaiting a beating and scolding.
But see what they're tasting: the choicest of beer!
Though three times and four times they quaff the good cheer
The pitchers remain still unemptied.
The marvel it lasts till the dawning of day;
All people who hear of it doubtless will say:
"What happen'd at length to the pitchers?"
In secret the children they smile, as they wait;
At last, though, they stammer, and stutter, and prate,
And straightway the pitchers were empty.
And if, children, with kindness address'd ye may be,
Whether father, or master, or alderman he,
Obey him, and follow his bidding!
And if 'tis unpleasant to bridle the tongue,
Yet talking is bad, silence good for the young--
And then will the beer fill your pitchers!
THE DANCE OF DEATH.
THE warder looks down at the mid hour of night,
On the tombs that lie scatter'd below:
The moon fills the place with her silvery light,
And the churchyard like day seems to glow.
When see! first one grave, then another opes wide,
And women and men stepping forth are descried,
In cerements snow-white and trailing.
In haste for the sport soon their ankles they twitch,
And whirl round in dances so gay;
The young and the old, and the poor, and the rich,
But the cerements stand in their way;
And as modesty cannot avail them aught here,
They shake themselves all, and the shrouds soon appear
Scatter'd over the tombs in confusion.
Now waggles the leg, and now wriggles the thigh,
As the troop with strange gestures advance,
And a rattle and clatter anon rises high,
As of one beating time to the dance.
The sight to the warder seems wondrously queer,
When the villainous Tempter speaks thus in his ear:
"Seize one of the shrouds that lie yonder!"
Quick as thought it was done! and for safety he fled
Behind the church-door with all speed;
The moon still continues her clear light to shed
On the dance that they fearfully lead.
But the dancers at length disappear one by one,
And their shrouds, ere they vanish, they carefully don,
And under the turf all is quiet.
But one of them stumbles and shuffles there still,
And gropes at the graves in despair;
Yet 'tis by no comrade he's treated so ill
The shroud he soon scents in the air.
So he rattles the door--for the warder 'tis well
That 'tis bless'd, and so able the foe to repel,
All cover'd with crosses in metal.
The shroud he must have, and no rest will allow,
There remains for reflection no time;
On the ornaments Gothic the wight seizes now,
And from point on to point hastes to climb.
Alas for the warder! his doom is decreed!
Like a long-legged spider, with ne'er-changing speed,
Advances the dreaded pursuer.
The warder he quakes, and the warder turns pale,
The shroud to restore fain had sought;
When the end,--now can nothing to save him avail,--
In a tooth formed of iron is caught.
With vanishing lustre the moon's race is run,
When the bell thunders loudly a powerful One,
And the skeleton fails, crush'd to atoms.
THE PUPIL IN MAGIC.
I AM now,--what joy to hear it!--
Of the old magician rid;
And henceforth shall ev'ry spirit
Do whate'er by me is bid;
I have watch'd with rigour
All he used to do,
And will now with vigour
Work my wonders too.
So that rightly
Flow the torrent,
And with teeming waters yonder
In the bath discharge its current!