Young and fresh,
From the clouds he danceth
Down upon the marble rocks;
Then tow’rd heaven
Through the mountain-passes
Chaseth he the color’d pebbles,
And, advancing like a chief,
Draws his brother streamlets with him
In his course.
In the vale below
’Neath his footsteps spring the flowers,
And the meadow
In his breath finds life.
Yet no shady vale can stay him,
Nor can flowers,
Round his knees all softly twining
With their loving eyes detain him;
To the plain his course he taketh,
Join his waters. And now moves he
O’er the plain in silv’ry glory,
And the plain in him exults,
And the rivers from the plain,
And the streamlets from the mountain,
Shout with joy, exclaiming: “Brother,
Brother, take thy brethren with thee.
With thee to thine aged father,
To the everlasting ocean,
Who, with arms outstretching far,
Waiteth for us;
Ah, in vain those arms lie open
To embrace his yearning children;
For the thirsty sand consumes us
In the desert waste; the sunbeams
Drink our life-blood; hills around us
Into lakes would dam us! Brother,
Take thy brethren of the plain,
Take thy brethren of the mountain
With thee, to thy father’s arms!”—
Let all come, then!—
And now swells he
Lordlier still; yea, e’en a people
Bears his regal flood on high!
And in triumph onward rolling,
Names to countries gives he,—cities
Spring to light beneath his foot.
Ever, ever, on he rushes,
Leaves the towers’ flame-tipp’d summits,
Marble palaces, the offspring
Of his fulness, far behind.
Cedar-houses bears the Atlas
On his giant shoulders; flutt’ring
In the breeze far, far above him
Thousand flags are gaily floating,
Bearing witness to his might.
And so beareth he his brethren,
All his treasures, all his children,
Wildly shouting, to the bosom
Of his long-expectant sire.
Cover thy spacious heavens, Zeus,
With clouds of mist,
And, like the boy who lops
The thistles’ heads,
Disport with oaks and mountain-peaks;
Yet thou must leave
My earth still standing;
My cottage too, which was not raised by thee,
Leave me my hearth,
Whose kindly glow
By thee is envied.
I know nought poorer
Under the sun, than ye gods!
Ye nourish painfully,
And votive prayers,
Ye would e’en starve,
If children and beggars
Were not trusting fools.
While yet a child,
And ignorant of life,
I turned my wandering gaze
Up tow’rd the sun, as if with him
There were an ear to hear my wailing,
A heart, like mine
To feel compassion for distress.