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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 431 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 06.

  3[41]

  Was once an ancient monarch,
  Heavy his heart, his locks were gray,
  This poor and aged monarch
  Took a wife so young and gay.

  Was once a page-boy handsome,
  With lightsome heart and curly hair,
  The silken train he carried
  Of the queen so young and fair.

  Dost know the old, old story? 
  It sounds so sweet, so sad to tell—­
  Both were obliged to perish,
  They loved each other too well.

* * * * *

ABROAD[42] (1834)

  Oh I had once a beauteous Fatherland! 
  High used to seem
  The oak—­so high!—­the violets nodded kind—­
  It was a dream.

  In German I was kissed, in German told
  (You scarce would deem
  How sweetly rang the words):  “I love thee well!—­”
  It was a dream.

* * * * *

THE SPHINX[43] (1839)

  It is the fairy forest old,
    With lime-tree blossoms scented! 
  The moonshine with its mystic light
    My soul and sense enchanted.

  On, on I roamed, and, as I went,
    Sweet music o’er me rose there;
  It is the nightingale—­she sings
    Of love and lovers’ woes there.

  She sings of love and lovers’ woes,
    Hearts blest, and hearts forsaken: 
  So sad is her mirth, so glad her sob,
    Dreams long forgot awaken.

  Still on I roamed, and, as I went,
    I saw before me lowering
  On a great wide lawn a stately pile,
    With gables peaked and towering.

  Closed were its windows, everywhere
    A hush, a gloom, past telling;
  It seemed as though silent Death within
    These empty halls were dwelling.

  A Sphinx lay there before the door,
    Half-brutish and half-human,
  A lioness in trunk and claws,
    In head and breasts a woman.

  A lovely woman!  The pale cheek
    Spoke of desires that wasted;
  The hushed lips curved into a smile,
    That wooed them to be tasted.

  The nightingale so sweetly sang,
    I yielded to their wooing;
  And as I kissed that winning face,
    I sealed my own undoing.

  The marble image thrilled with life,
    The stone began to quiver;
  She drank my kisses’ burning flame
    With fierce convulsive shiver.

  She almost drank my breath away;
    And, to her passion bending,
  She clasped me close, with her lion claws
    My hapless body rending.

  Delicious torture, rapturous pang! 
    The pain, the bliss, unbounded! 
  Her lips, their kiss was heaven to me,
    Her claws, oh, how they wounded.

  The nightingale sang:  “O beauteous Sphinx! 
    O love, love! say, why this is,
  That with the anguish of death itself
    Thou minglest all thy blisses?

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