it echoes like the thunder’s peal,
Then soft and low through the May night doth steal;
Sometimes, on joyous wing, to Heaven it soars,
Sometimes, like Philomel, its woes deplores.
For, oh! this a song that ne’er can die,
It seeks the heart of all humanity.
In the deep cavern and the darksome lair,
The sea of ether o’er the realm of air,
In every nook my song shall still be heard,
And all creation, with sad yearning stirred,
United in a full, exultant choir,
Pray thee to grant the singer’s fond desire.
E’en when the ivy o’er my grave hath grown,
Still will ring on each sweet, enchanting tone,
Through the whole world and every earthly zone,
Resounding on in aeons yet to come.”
Maria read on, her heart beating more and more violently, her breath coming quicker and quicker, and when she had reached the last verse, tears burst from her eyes, and she raised the book with both hands to hurl it from her and throw her arms around the writer’s neck.
He had been standing opposite to her, as if spellbound, listening blissfully to the lofty flight of his own words. Trembling with passionate emotion, he yet restrained himself until she had raised her eyes from his lines and lifted the book, then his power of resistance flew to the winds and, fairly beside himself, he exclaimed: “Maria, my sweet wife!”
“Wife?” echoed in her breast like a cry of warning, and it seemed as if an icy hand clutched her heart. The intoxication passed away, and as she saw him standing before her with out-stretched arms and sparkling eyes, she shrank back, a feeling of intense loathing of him and her own weakness seized upon her and, instead of throwing the book aside and rushing to meet him, she tore it in halves, saying proudly: “Here are your verses, Junker von Dornburg; take them with you.” Then, maintaining her dignity by a strong effort, she continued in a lower, more gentle tone, “I shall remember you without this book. We have both dreamed; let us now wake. Farewell! I will pray that God may guard you. Give me your hand, Georg, and when you return, we will bid you welcome to our house as a friend.”
With these words Maria turned away from the Junker and only nodded silently, when he exclaimed: “Past! All past!”
Georg descended the stairs in a state of bewilderment. Both halves of the book, in which ever since the wedding at Delft he had written a succession of verses to Maria, lay in his hand.
The light of the kitchen-fire streamed into the entry. He followed it, and before answering Barbara’s kind greeting, went to the hearth and flung into the fire the sheets, which contained the pure, sweet fragrance of a beautiful flower of youth.