The Poems of Schiller — Third period

Фридрих Шиллер
The Poems of Schiller — Third period



   I see her still — by her fair train surrounded,
    The fairest of them all, she took her place;
   Afar I stood, by her bright charms confounded,
    For, oh! they dazzled with their heavenly grace.
   With awe my soul was filled — with bliss unbounded,
    While gazing on her softly radiant face;
   But soon, as if up-borne on wings of fire,
   My fingers 'gan to sweep the sounding lyre.
   The thoughts that rushed across me in that hour,
    The words I sang, I'd fain once more invoke;
   Within, I felt a new-awakened power,
    That each emotion of my bosom spoke.
   My soul, long time enchained in sloth's dull bower,
    Through all its fetters now triumphant broke,
   And brought to light unknown, harmonious numbers,
   Which in its deepest depths, had lived in slumbers.
   And when the chords had ceased their gentle sighing,
    And when my soul rejoined its mortal frame,
   I looked upon her face and saw love vieing,
    In every feature, with her maiden shame.
   And soon my ravished heart seemed heavenward flying,
    When her soft whisper o'er my senses came.
   The blissful seraphs' choral strains alone
   Can glad mine ear again with that sweet tone,
   Of that fond heart, which, pining silently,
    Ne'er ventures to express its feelings lowly,
   The real and modest worth is known to me —
    'Gainst cruel fate I'll guard its cause so holy.
   Most blest of all, the meek one's lot shall be —
    Love's flowers by love's own hand are gathered solely —
   The fairest prize to that fond heart is due,
   That feels it, and that beats responsive, too!


   She sought to breathe one word, but vainly;
    Too many listeners were nigh;
   And yet my timid glance read plainly
    The language of her speaking eye.
   Thy silent glades my footstep presses,
    Thou fair and leaf-embosomed grove!
   Conceal within thy green recesses
    From mortal eye our sacred love!
   Afar with strange discordant noises,
    The busy day is echoing;
   And 'mid the hollow hum of voices,
    I hear the heavy hammer ring.
   'Tis thus that man, with toil ne'er ending
    Extorts from heaven his daily bread;
   Yet oft unseen the Gods are sending
    The gifts of fortune on his head!
   Oh, let mankind discover never
    How true love fills with bliss our hearts
   They would but crush our joy forever,
    For joy to them no glow imparts.
   Thou ne'er wilt from the world obtain it —
    'Tis never captured save as prey;
   Thou needs must strain each nerve to gain it,
    E'er envy dark asserts her sway.
   The hours of night and stillness loving,
    It comes upon us silently —
   Away with hasty footstep moving
    Soon as it sees a treacherous eye.
   Thou gentle stream, soft circlets weaving,
    A watery barrier cast around,
   And, with thy waves in anger heaving,
    Guard from each foe this holy ground!


   Hear I the creaking gate unclose?
    The gleaming latch uplifted?
   No — 'twas the wind that, whirring, rose,
    Amidst the poplars drifted!
   Adorn thyself, thou green leaf-bowering roof,
    Destined the bright one's presence to receive,
   For her, a shadowy palace-hall aloof
    With holy night, thy boughs familiar weave.
   And ye sweet flatteries of the delicate air,
    Awake and sport her rosy cheek around,
   When their light weight the tender feet shall bear,
    When beauty comes to passion's trysting-ground.
   Hush! what amidst the copses crept —
    So swiftly by me now?
   No-'twas the startled bird that swept
    The light leaves of the bough!
   Day, quench thy torch! come, ghostlike, from on high,
    With thy loved silence, come, thou haunting Eve,
   Broaden below thy web of purple dye,
    Which lulled boughs mysterious round us weave.
   For love's delight, enduring listeners none,
    The froward witness of the light will flee;
   Hesper alone, the rosy silent one,
    Down-glancing may our sweet familiar be!
   What murmur in the distance spoke,
    And like a whisper died?
   No — 'twas the swan that gently broke
    In rings the silver tide!
   Soft to my ear there comes a music-flow;
    In gleesome murmur glides the waterfall;
   To zephyr's kiss the flowers are bending low;
    Through life goes joy, exchanging joy with all.
   Tempt to the touch the grapes — the blushing fruit, 2
  Voluptuous swelling from the leaves that bide;
   And, drinking fever from my cheek, the mute
    Air sleeps all liquid in the odor-tide!
   Hark! through the alley hear I now
    A footfall? Comes the maiden?
   No, — 'twas the fruit slid from the bough,
    With its own richness laden!
   Day's lustrous eyes grow heavy in sweet death,
    And pale and paler wane his jocund hues,
   The flowers too gentle for his glowing breath,
    Ope their frank beauty to the twilight dews.
   The bright face of the moon is still and lone,
    Melts in vast masses the world silently;
   Slides from each charm the slowly-loosening zone;
    And round all beauty, veilless, roves the eye.
   What yonder seems to glimmer?
    Her white robe's glancing hues?
   No, — 'twas the column's shimmer
    Athwart the darksome yews!
   O, longing heart, no more delight-upbuoyed
    Let the sweet airy image thee befool!
   The arms that would embrace her clasp the void
    This feverish breast no phantom-bliss can cool,
   O, waft her here, the true, the living one!
    Let but my hand her hand, the tender, feel —
   The very shadow of her robe alone! —
    So into life the idle dream shall steal!
   As glide from heaven, when least we ween,
   The rosy hours of bliss,
   All gently came the maid, unseen: —
   He waked beneath her kiss!


   Could I from this valley drear,
    Where the mist hangs heavily,
   Soar to some more blissful sphere,
    Ah! how happy should I be!
   Distant hills enchant my sight,
    Ever young and ever fair;
   To those hills I'd take my flight
    Had I wings to scale the air.
   Harmonies mine ear assail,
    Tunes that breathe a heavenly calm;
   And the gently-sighing gale
    Greets me with its fragrant balm.
   Peeping through the shady bowers,
    Golden fruits their charms display.
   And those sweetly-blooming flowers
    Ne'er become cold winter's prey.
   In you endless sunshine bright,
    Oh! what bliss 'twould be to dwell!
   How the breeze on yonder height
    Must the heart with rapture swell!
   Yet the stream that hems my path
    Checks me with its angry frown,
   While its waves, in rising wrath,
    Weigh my weary spirit down.
   See — a bark is drawing near,
    But, alas, the pilot fails!
   Enter boldly — wherefore fear?
    Inspiration fills its sails,
   Faith and courage make thine own, —
    Gods ne'er lend a helping-hand;
   'Tis by magic power alone
    Thou canst reach the magic land!


   Oh! thou bright-beaming god, the plains are thirsting,
   Thirsting for freshening dew, and man is pining;
        Wearily move on thy horses —
        Let, then, thy chariot descend!
   Seest thou her who, from ocean's crystal billows,
   Lovingly nods and smiles? — Thy heart must know her!
        Joyously speed on thy horses, —
        Tethys, the goddess, 'tis nods!
   Swiftly from out his flaming chariot leaping,
   Into her arms he springs, — the reins takes Cupid, —
        Quietly stand the horses,
        Drinking the cooling flood.
   Now from the heavens with gentle step descending,
   Balmy night appears, by sweet love followed;
        Mortals, rest ye, and love ye, —
        Phoebus, the loving one, rests!


   Youth's gay springtime scarcely knowing
    Went I forth the world to roam —
   And the dance of youth, the glowing,
    Left I in my father's home,
   Of my birthright, glad-believing,
    Of my world-gear took I none,
   Careless as an infant, cleaving
    To my pilgrim staff alone.
   For I placed my mighty hope in
    Dim and holy words of faith,
   "Wander forth — the way is open,
    Ever on the upward path —
   Till thou gain the golden portal,
    Till its gates unclose to thee.
   There the earthly and the mortal,
    Deathless and divine shall be!"
   Night on morning stole, on stealeth,
    Never, never stand I still,
   And the future yet concealeth,
    What I seek, and what I will!
   Mount on mount arose before me,
    Torrents hemmed me every side,
   But I built a bridge that bore me
    O'er the roaring tempest-tide.
   Towards the east I reached a river,
    On its shores I did not rest;
   Faith from danger can deliver,
    And I trusted to its breast.
   Drifted in the whirling motion,
    Seas themselves around me roll —
   Wide and wider spreads the ocean,
    Far and farther flies the goal.
   While I live is never given
    Bridge or wave the goal to near —
   Earth will never meet the heaven,
    Never can the there be here!


   And wilt thou, faithless one, then, leave me,
    With all thy magic phantasy, —
   With all the thoughts that joy or grieve me,
    Wilt thou with all forever fly?
   Can naught delay thine onward motion,
    Thou golden time of life's young dream?
   In vain! eternity's wide ocean
    Ceaselessly drowns thy rolling stream.
   The glorious suns my youth enchanting
    Have set in never-ending night;
   Those blest ideals now are wanting
    That swelled my heart with mad delight.
   The offspring of my dream hath perished,
    My faith in being passed away;
   The godlike hopes that once I cherish
    Are now reality's sad prey.
   As once Pygmalion, fondly yearning,
    Embraced the statue formed by him,
   Till the cold marble's cheeks were burning,
    And life diffused through every limb,
   So I, with youthful passion fired,
    My longing arms round Nature threw,
   Till, clinging to my breast inspired,
    She 'gan to breathe, to kindle too.
   And all my fiery ardor proving,
    Though mute, her tale she soon could tell,
   Returned each kiss I gave her loving,
    The throbbings of my heart read well.
   Then living seemed each tree, each flower,
    Then sweetly sang the waterfall,
   And e'en the soulless in that hour
    Shared in the heavenly bliss of all.
   For then a circling world was bursting
    My bosom's narrow prison-cell,
   To enter into being thirsting,
    In deed, word, shape, and sound as well.
   This world, how wondrous great I deemed it,
    Ere yet its blossoms could unfold!
   When open, oh, how little seemed it!
    That little, oh, how mean and cold!
   How happy, winged by courage daring,
    The youth life's mazy path first pressed —
   No care his manly strength impairing,
    And in his dream's sweet vision blest!
   The dimmest star in air's dominion
    Seemed not too distant for his flight;
   His young and ever-eager pinion
    Soared far beyond all mortal sight.
   Thus joyously toward heaven ascending,
    Was aught for his bright hopes too far?
   The airy guides his steps attending,
    How danced they round life's radiant car!
   Soft love was there, her guerdon bearing,
    And fortune, with her crown of gold,
   And fame, her starry chaplet wearing,
    And truth, in majesty untold.
   But while the goal was yet before them,
    The faithless guides began to stray;
   Impatience of their task came o'er them,
    Then one by one they dropped away.
   Light-footed Fortune first retreating,
    Then Wisdom's thirst remained unstilled,
   While heavy storms of doubt were beating
    Upon the path truth's radiance filled.
   I saw Fame's sacred wreath adorning
    The brows of an unworthy crew;
   And, ah! how soon Love's happy morning,
    When spring had vanished, vanished too!
   More silent yet, and yet more weary,
    Became the desert path I trod;
   And even hope a glimmer dreary
    Scarce cast upon the gloomy road.
   Of all that train, so bright with gladness,
    Oh, who is faithful to the end?
   Who now will seek to cheer my sadness,
    And to the grave my steps attend?
   Thou, Friendship, of all guides the fairest,
    Who gently healest every wound;
   Who all life's heavy burdens sharest,
    Thou, whom I early sought and found!
   Employment too, thy loving neighbor,
    Who quells the bosom's rising storms;
   Who ne'er grows weary of her labor,
    And ne'er destroys, though slow she forms;
   Who, though but grains of sand she places
    To swell eternity sublime,
   Yet minutes, days, ay! years effaces
    From the dread reckoning kept by Time!


   Beside the brook the boy reclined
    And wove his flowery wreath,
   And to the waves the wreath consigned —
    The waves that danced beneath.
   "So fleet mine hours," he sighed, "away
    Like waves that restless flow:
   And so my flowers of youth decay
    Like those that float below."
   "Ask not why I, alone on earth,
    Am sad in life's young time;
   To all the rest are hope and mirth
    When spring renews its prime.
   Alas! the music Nature makes,
    In thousand songs of gladness —
   While charming all around me, wakes
    My heavy heart to sadness."
   "Ah! vain to me the joys that break
    From spring, voluptuous are;
   For only one 't is mine to seek —
    The near, yet ever far!
   I stretch my arms, that shadow-shape
    In fond embrace to hold;
   Still doth the shade the clasp escape —
    The heart is unconsoled!"
   "Come forth, fair friend, come forth below,
    And leave thy lofty hall,
   The fairest flowers the spring can know
    In thy dear lap shall fall!
   Clear glides the brook in silver rolled,
    Sweet carols fill the air;
   The meanest hut hath space to hold
    A happy loving pair!"


   Far away, where darkness reigneth,
    All my dreams of bliss are flown;
   Yet with love my gaze remaineth
    Fixed on one fair star alone.
   But, alas! that star so bright
   Sheds no lustre save by night.
   If in slumbers ending never,
    Gloomy death had sealed thine eyes,
   Thou hadst lived in memory ever —
    Thou hadst lived still in my sighs;
   But, alas! in light thou livest —
   To my love no answer givest!
   Can the sweet hopes love once cherished
    Emma, can they transient prove?
   What has passed away and perished —
    Emma, say, can that be love?
   That bright flame of heavenly birth —
    Can it die like things of earth?
11 In Schiller the eight long lines that conclude each stanza of this charming love-poem, instead of rhyming alternately as in the translation, chime somewhat to the tune of Byron's Don Juan — six lines rhyming with each other, and the two last forming a separate couplet. In other respects the translation, it is hoped, is sufficiently close and literal.
22 The peach.
33 Sung in "The Parasite," a comedy which Schiller translated from Picard — much the best comedy, by the way, that Picard ever wrote.
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