Whispering a word, thou lay’st on
A wreath with sad cypress shotten;
awake, the wreath is no longer there,
And the word I have forgotten.
* * * * *
TO MY MOTHER
I have been wont to bear my head on high,
Haughty and stern am I of mood and mien;
Yea, though a king should gaze on me, I ween,
I should not at his gaze cast down my eye.
But I will speak, dear Mother, candidly:
When most puffed up my haughty mood hath been,
At thy sweet presence, blissful and serene,
I feel the shudder of humility.
Does thy soul all unknown my soul subdue,
Thy lofty soul that pierces all things through
And speeds on lightning wings to heaven’s blue?
Or am I racked by what my memories tell
Of frequent deeds which caused thy heart to swell—
That beauteous heart which loved me, ah! too well.
With foolish fancy I deserted thee;
I fain would search the whole world through to learn
If in it I perchance could love discern,
That I might love embrace right lovingly.
I sought for love as far as eye could see,
My hands extending at each door in turn,
Begging them not my prayer for love to spurn—
Cold hate alone they laughing gave to me.
And ever search’d I after love; yes, ever
Search’d after love, but love discover’d never,
And so I homeward went with troubled thought;
But thou wert there to welcome me again,
And, ah, what in thy dear eye floated then
That was the sweet love I so long had sought.
* * * * *
[Illustration: POOR PETER From the Painting by P. Grotjohann]
POOR PETER (1822)
Grete and Hans come dancing by,
They shout for very glee;
Poor Peter stands all silently,
And white as chalk is he.
Grete and Hans were wed this morn,
And shine in bright array;
But ah, poor Peter stands forlorn,
Dressed for a working-day.
He mutters, as with wistful eyes
He gazes at them still:
“’Twere easy—were I not too wise—
To do myself some ill....”
“An aching sorrow fills my breast,
My heart is like to break;
It leaves me neither peace nor rest,
And all for Grete’s sake.
“It drives me to her side, as though
She still could comfort me;
But in her eyes there’s something now
That makes me turn and flee.
“I climb the highest hilltop where
I am at least alone;
And standing in the stillness there
I weep and make my moan.”
Poor Peter wanders slowly by;
So pale is he, so dull and shy,
The very neighbors in the street
Turn round to gaze, when him they meet.