Then Archivarius Lindhorst patted me gently on the shoulder, and said: “Soft, soft, my honored friend! Lament not so! Were you not even now in Atlantis, and have you not at least a pretty little copyhold Farm there, as the poetical possession of your inward sense? And is the blessedness of Anselmus aught else but a Living in Poesy? Can aught else but Poesy reveal itself as the sacred Harmony of all Beings, as the deepest secret of Nature?”
FRIEDRICH BARON DE LA MOTTE FOUQUE
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TRANSLATED BY F.E. BUNNETT
The Day after the wedding
The fresh light of the morning awoke the young married pair. Undine hid bashfully beneath her covers while Huldbrand lay still, absorbed in deep meditation. Wonderful and horrible dreams had disturbed Huldbrand’s rest; he had been haunted by spectres, who, grinning at him by stealth, had tried to disguise themselves as beautiful women, and from beautiful women they all at once assumed the faces of dragons, and when he started up from these hideous visions the moonlight shone pale and cold into the room; terrified he looked at Undine on whose bosom he fell asleep and who still lay in unaltered beauty and grace. Then he would press a light kiss upon her rosy lips and would fall asleep again only to be awakened by new terrors. After he had reflected on all this, now that he was fully awake, he reproached himself for any doubt that could have led him into error with regard to his beautiful wife. He begged her to forgive him for the injustice he had done her, but she only held out to him her fair hand, sighed deeply, and remained silent. But a glance of exquisite fervor, such as he had never seen before, beamed from her eyes, carrying with it the full assurance that Undine bore him no ill-will. He then rose cheerfully and left her, to join his friends in the common apartment.
He found the three sitting round the hearth with an air of anxiety, as if they dared not venture to speak aloud. The priest seemed to be praying in his inmost spirit that all evil might be averted. When, however, they saw the young husband come forth so cheerfully, the careworn expression of their faces vanished.
The old fisherman even began to tease the knight, but in so chaste and modest a manner that the aged wife herself smiled good-humoredly as she listened to them. Undine at length made her appearance. All rose to meet her and all stood still with surprise, for the young wife seemed so strange to them and yet the same. The priest was the first to advance toward her, with paternal affection beaming in his face, and, as he raised his hand to bless her, the beautiful woman sank reverently on her knees before him. With a few humble and gracious words she