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Who order'd, that their longing's fire
Should be, as soon as kindled, cool'd?
Who renders vain their deep desire?
A God, a God their severance ruled!
And bade betwixt their shores to be
The unplumb’d, salt, estranging sea.
THE TERRACE AT BERNE. (COMPOSED TEN YEARS AFTER THE PRECEDING.) [New Poems 1867; Nr. 7 des Zyklus "Switzerland”.]
Ten years!-- and to my waking eye
Once more the roofs of Berne appear;
The rocky banks, the terrace high,
The stream!—and do I linger here?
The clouds are on the Oberland,
The Jungfrau snows look faint and far;
But bright are those green fields at hand,
And through those fields comes down the Aar,
And from the blue twin-lakes it comes,
Flows by the town, the church-yard fair;
And ’neath the garden-walk it hums,
The house!—and is my Marguerite there?
Ah, shall I see thee, while a flush
Of startled pleasure floods thy brow,
Quick through the oleanders brush,
And clap thy hands, and cry: 'Tis thou !
Or hast thou long since wander'd back,
Daughter of France! to France, thy home;
And fitted down the flowery track
Where feet like thine too lightly come?
Doth riotous laughter now replace
Thy smile; and rouge, with stony glare,
Thy cheek's soft hue; and fluttering lace
The kerchief that enwound thy hair?
Or is it over?-art thou dead? -
Dead!--and no warning shiver ran
Across my heart, to say thy thread
Of life was cut, and closed thy span!
Could from earth's ways that figure slight
Be lost, and I not feel 'twas so?
Of that fresh voice the gay delight
Fail from earth's air, and I not know?
Or shall I find thee still, but changed,
But not the Marguerite of thy prime?
With all thy being re-arranged,
Pass'd through the crucible of time;
With spirit vanish’d, beauty waned,
And hardly yet a glance, a tone,
Of all that was my Marguerite's own?
I will not know! For wherefore try,
To things by mortal course that live,
A shadowy durability,
For which they were not meant, to give?
Like driftwood spars, which meet and pass
Upon the boundless ocean-plain,
So on the sea of life, alas!
Man meets man--meets, and quits again.
I knew it when my life was young;
I feel it still, now youth is o'er.
-The mists are on the mountains hung,
And Marguerite I shall see no more.
[Empedocles etc. 1852.)
WEARY of myself, and sick of asking
What I am, and what I ought to be,
At this vessel's prow I stand, which bears me
Forwards, forwards, o'er the starlit sea.
And a look of passionate desire
O’er the sea and to the stars I send:
“Ye who from my childhood up have calm’d me,
Calm me, ah, compose me to the end!
“Ah, once more," I cried, "ye stars, ye waters,
On my heart your mighty charm renew;
Still, still let me, as I gaze upon you,
Feel my soul becoming vast like you!"
From the intense, clear, star-sown vault of heaven,
Over the lit sea's unquiet way,
In the rustling night-air came the answer:
“Wouldst thou be as these are? Live as they.
“Unaffrighted by the silence round them,
Undistracted by the sights they see,
These demand not that the things without them
Yield them love, amusement, sympathy.
“And with joy the stars perform their shining,
And the sea its long moon-silver'd roll;
For self-poised they live, nor pine with noting
All the fever of some differing soul.
“Bounded by themselves, and unregardful In what state God's other works may be, In their own tasks all their powers pouring, These attain the mighty life you see.” O air-born voice! long since, severely clear, A cry
like thine in mine own heart I hear: “Resolve to be thyself; and know, that he Who finds himself, loses his misery!”
[Empedocles etc. 1852.]
We cannot kindle when we will
The fire which in the heart resides;
The spirit bloweth and is still,
In mystery our soul abides.
But tasks in hours of insight willid
Can be through hours of gloom fulfill’d.
With aching hands and bleeding feet
We dig and heap, lay stone on stone;
We bear the burden and the heat
Of the long day, and wish 'twere done.
Not till the hours of light return,
All we have built do we discern.
Then, when the clouds are off the soul,
When thou dost bask in Nature's eye,
Ask, how she view'd thy self-control,
Thy struggling, task'd morality-
Nature, whose free, light, cheerful air,
Oft made thee, in thy gloom, despair. And she, whose censure thou dost dread, Whose eye thou was afraid to seek,
See, on her face a glow is spread,
A strong emotion on her cheek!
"Ah, child!" she cries, "that strife divine,
Whence was it, for it is not mine?
“There is no effort on my brow-
I do not strive, I do not weep;
I rush with the swift spheres and glow
In joy, and when I will, I sleep.
Yet that severe, that earnest air,
I I felt it once-but where?
“I knew not yet the gauge of time,
Nor wore the manacles of space;
I felt it in some other clime,
I saw it in some other place.
'Twas when the heavenly house I trod,
And lay upon the breast of God.”
A SUMMER NIGHT.
[Empedocles etc. 1852.)
In the deserted, moon-blanch'd street,
How lonely rings the echo of my feet!
Those windows, which I gaze at, frown,
Silent and white, unopening down,
Repellent as the world;- but see,
A break between the housetops shows
The moon! and, lost behind her, fading dim
Into the dewy dark obscurity
Down at the far horizon's rim,
Doth a whole tract of heaven disclose!
And to my mind the thought
Is on a sudden brought