He sought for serenity in that light raillery which enveloped the whole universe, and played his part in it with grace; but this serenity was incomplete and false, and often suffered his ill-cured sorrows to break forth. True serenity is a higher thing; it is to be found in the intelligence and adoration of that ideal which nothing can affect, that truth which no shadow can obscure. Darling maiden, who can be Ever found to equal thee?
To thy service joyfully Shall my life be pledged by me. For a garden of enjoyment Was the world I then lived in, Tending flowers my sole employment, Roses, violets, jessamine. Pale and thin my grief hath made me, Since mine eyes upon her fell; Secret sorrows now pervade me, Wonderful and hard to tell. Unknown sorrows, unknown anguish Toss me wildly to and fro, And I pine away and languish, Tortured by an unknown glow.
And now my late sorrows no longer annoy, Made happy at last is my love; For there, with my sweetheart on arm, I with joy Can beneath the sweet linden trees rove. I find my heart suddenly bleeding no more, Mine inward eye brightly doth glow. Mute angel-rapture blest Now fills my wounded breast. Yonder, where the stars glow nightly, We shall find those joys smile brightly Which on earth seem far away.
When I am with my sweetheart kind, A happy youth am I; So great the wealth within my mind, I the whole world could buy. But when her swanlike arms I quit, In that sad hour of pain, Away my boasted wealth doth flit, And I am poor again. Of peace, and happiness, and heart, Thou, loved one, long time hast bereft me; And of the gifts that thou hast left me Not one of these doth form a part.
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For peace, heart, happiness, hast thou To me a life-long sorrow given, With bitter words commingled even,— O take these back, my loved one, now. That long-denied first kiss of passion The ardent lover stole in haste? O glances, ye experienced fish-hooks, On which the fish is captive brought! O kiss, thou charming rod of honey, With which the bird is limed and caught!
Now say: is not thy head yet bald? And full thy little heart? You, loved one, assured me so strongly, I wellnigh fancied it true; That you asserted it was so, Was no sign of folly in you. Wherein thou tookedst the principal part, While I at thy feet was panting,— How well thou actedst the innocent one, Thou actress most enchanting! Do not ask me of my pleasures, Ask not of my bitter smart; Pleasure ever flies his presence Who doth own a broken heart. Hearken to my noblest strains! While my spirit tells the story, Thrilling bliss runs through my veins.
All our faith and virtue soiling, All our heavenly yearnings fled, All we deemed of worth, despoiling,— Giving sin and pain instead. German shame to gild refusing, Dark the German sun soon grew, And a mournful voice accusing Pierced the German oak trees through. Now the sun once more is glancing, And the oak trees roar with joy; The avengers are advancing, Shame and sorrow to destroy. Say, what can that wild flame be?
From the night of sin emerging Germany uninjured stands; Wildly is the spot still surging, Where that fair form burst her bands. Ancient manners, ancient German Virtues, and heroic deeds! Valiantly each son of Hermann  Waves his sword and proudly bleeds. And at home, no labour heeding, Woman plies her gentle hand, Tends the sacred wounds all bleeding In defence of fatherland. But a nobler, prouder feeling Through me at her vision thrills, When, beside the sick-bed kneeling, Acts of mercy she fulfils.
Heavenly angels she resembles When the last draught she supplies To the wounded man, who trembles, Smiles his grateful thanks, and dies.
Poor, poor sons of France! German women! What a charm the words convey! Flourish on for many a day! All our daughters like Louisa, All our sons like Frederick be! Hear me in the grave, Louisa! Ever flourish Germany!
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Son of folly, dream thou ever, When thy thoughts within thee burn; But in life thy visions never To reality will turn. Once in happier days chance bore me To a high mount on the Rhine; Smiling lay the land before me, Gloriously the sun did shine. Far below, the waves were singing Wild and magic melodies; In my inmost heart were ringing Blissful strains in wondrous wise. Now, when gazing from that station On the land—how sad its doom!
When a hand-shake was more valid Than an oath or written sheet; When men, iron-clad, forth sallied, And a heart inside them beat. In dark coffins, too, are sleeping Those dear maids bards sang of old; Shrines like these within them keeping Greater wealth than pearls and gold. In their simple minds, our mothers Used to think in days of yore, That the gem above all others Fair, man in his bosom bore.
Very different from this is What their daughters wisdom call; In the present day our misses Love the jewels most of all. Lonely in the forest chapel, At the image of the Virgin, Lay a gentle, pallid stripling, Bent in humble adoration. O Madonna! Let me ever On the threshold here be kneeling; Thou wilt never drive me from thee, To the world so cold and sinful.
This day hear me, Full of mercy, rich in wonders! Grant me then a sign of favour, Just one little sign of favour. The forest and chapel were parted insunder; The boy understood not the miracle strange, For all around him did suddenly change. And see! What attests this consecration? Angels up and down are moving, Loudly do their pinions flutter; Breathing music strange and loving, Sweet the melodies they utter. Well the stripling knows the yearning Through his frame that now doth quiver; To that land his footsteps turning, Where the myrtle blooms for ever. She gave me soon a rich golden store, To a golden cottage the prize I bore; Strange goings-on in the cottage I found,— Small elves are dancing in graceful round.
Little bee! Youthful one! Foolish one!
Poor little simpleton! In the flame rusheth he, Little bee! Sons of men! Then strike thou in turn thine echoing chord, And give me news that may pleasure afford; How matters with thee, dear minstrel, go, And with the others whom I loved so; And how it fares with the lovely girl Who set so many young hearts in a whirl, And filled so many with yearnings divine— The blossoming rose on the blossoming Rhine.
All I saw and heard when travelling, All that soul and heart found pleasing, All that gave me food for cavilling, All that tedious was or teasing;. Solemn jostlings, wild excitement, Both of simpletons and sages,— All shall swell the long indictment Of my travels in these pages. Give not travels life twice over? When at home one lives once only; Wouldst thou nobler ends discover, Thou must leave thy closet lonely. Defend it not, defend it not, This wretched world below; Defend its gaping people not, Who care for nought but pomp and show.
The women, too, defend them not, Though good ones may be there; The best amongst them scorneth not The man she loves not, to ensnare.
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And then my friends—defend them not: Count not thyself one now; For thou those friends resemblest not,— No! Indeed they have wearied me greatly, And made me exceedingly sad, One half with their prose so wretched, The other with poetry bad. How very charming each bonnet! Each Turkish shawl, how it gleams!
Each cheek, what a bright glow upon it! Each neck, how swanlike it seems! And over the pond are sailing Two swans all white as snow; Sweet voices mysteriously wailing Pierce through me as onward they go. They sail along, and a ringing Sweet melody rises on high, And when the swans begin singing, They presently must die. When in sorrow, they dare not show it, However mournful their mood, For the swan, like the soul of the poet, By the dull world is ill understood.
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And in their death-hour they waken The air, and break into song; And, unless my ears are mistaken, They sing now, while sailing along. Full deep in my soul it gazes, With old-time-recalling eye, Like a glimpse of joys long buried, And happiness long gone by. She beckons in friendly silence, And clasps me with gentle despair; But I seize hold of my glasses, To have a better stare! My nurse used of that garden to assert That a strange ringing, wondrous sweet, there dwells, Each flower can speak, each tree with music swells. Thou greedy man, I pray thee be content With that which seldom unto man is lent; Instead of adding more, to spend prepare!
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In times of barbarous self-love like these, How doth an image of such greatness please! Thy friendly greetings open wide my breast, And the dark chambers of my heart unbar; Home visions greet me like some radiant star, And magic pinions fan me into rest. Could I but see thee, truest friend of all, Who still dost link thyself to me, as clings The ivy green around a crumbling wall! I wildly cried in nameless agony, From mouth and eyes the blood in torrents sprang,— A maid passed by, who a gold hammer swang, And presently the coup-de-grace gave she.
Such was the night, my friend, that I did pass On the high Drachenfels,—but I, alas, A wretched cold and cough took home with me! The bad victorious are, the good lie low; The myrtles are replaced by poplars dry, Through which the evening breezes loudly sigh, Bright flashes take the place of silent glow. Remember me when I my death have found. And greater bliss shall soon be mine, when I Shall, as thy guardian spirit, watch unseen, Thy heart with peaceful greetings satisfy.
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