And when in the night’s first slumber
Thine eyes scarce closing seem,
Still should my word pursue thee
Into thy deepest dream.
The shades of the summer evening lie
On the forest and meadows green;
The golden moon shines in the azure sky
Through balm-breathing air serene.
The cricket is chirping the brooklet near,
In the water a something stirs,
And the wanderer can in the stillness hear
A plash and a sigh through the furze.
There all by herself the fairy bright
Is bathing down in the stream;
Her arms and throat, bewitching and white,
In the moonshine glance and gleam.
I know not what evil is coming,
But my heart feels sad and cold;
A song in my head keeps humming,
A tale from the times of old.
The air is fresh and it darkles,
And smoothly flows the Rhine;
The peak of the mountain sparkles
In the fading sunset-shine.
The loveliest wonderful maiden
On high is sitting there,
With golden jewels braiden,
And she combs her golden hair.
With a golden comb sits combing,
And ever the while sings she
A marvelous song through the gloaming
Of magical melody.
It hath caught the boatman, and bound
In the spell of a wild, sad love;
He sees not the rocks around him,
He sees only her above.
The waves through the pass keep swinging,
But boatman or boat is none;
And this with her mighty singing
The Lorelei hath done.
[Illustration: ROCKY COAST From the Painting by Ludwig von Hofmann.]
* * * * *
By the dim sea-shore
Lonely I sat, and thought-afflicted.
The sun sank low, and sinking he shed
Rose and vermilion upon the waters,
And the white foaming waves,
Urged on by the tide,
Foamed and murmured yet nearer and nearer—
A curious jumble of whispering and wailing,
A soft rippling laughter and sobbing and sighing,
And in between all a low lullaby singing.
Methought I heard ancient forgotten legends,
The world-old sweet stories,
Which once, as a boy,
I heard from my playmates,
When, of a summer’s evening,
We crouched down to tell stories
On the stones of the doorstep,
With small listening hearts,
And bright curious eyes;
While the big grown-up girls
Were sitting opposite
At flowery and fragrant windows,
Their rosy faces
Smiling and moonshine-illumined.
* * * * *
HAIL TO THE SEA (1825-26)
Hail to thee, thou eternal sea!
Hail to thee, ten thousand times, hail!
With rejoicing heart
I bid thee welcome,
As once, long ago, did welcome thee
Ten thousand Greek hearts—
World-renowned Greek hearts.