Starless and cold is the night; Old Ocean yawns, And flat on the ocean, upon his belly Squats the uncouth North Wind; And stealthily croaking, with groan and with grunt, Like a crotchety grumbler waxing good-humoured, He babbles into the waters Mad tales without number; Tales of giants, breathing of slaughter, And world-old stories of Norway; And ever between he laughs and howls out Incantations from Edda And ancient Runes, So darkly defiant and potent of spell That the white ocean children Leap up high and exulting In turbulent frenzy. Meanwhile, on the flat lone shore, O'er the tide-washed sands, Strides a stranger whose throbbing heart Beats yet wilder than wind and waves. Whither he treads Sparks fly, and shells crunch beneath him And he wraps him up in his sombre mantle, And strides on fast through the wind and the night, Safely led by the glimmering taper, That beckons so sweetly inviting From the fisherman's lonely cottage. Father and brothers are out at sea, And all alone by herself was left In the cottage the fisherman's daughter, The wondrously beautiful fisherman's daughter. By the hearth sits she, And lists to the kettle's Drowsy song, full of sweet promise; Fuel and sticks she adds to the fire, And blows thereon, And the flickering red light As by magic illumines Her blooming features, And her tender white shoulder That peeps forth pathetic From coarse linen kirtle, And illumines, too, her small hand, Carefully tying yet faster her garments Round her slender waist. But on a sudden the door springs open, And there enters the stranger nocturnal; Full and assured of love Rests his eye on the fair slight maiden, Who trembles before him Like a frightened lily, And he throws his cloak on the ground, And he laughs and says: "Look you, my child, I have kept my word, And I come, and there comes Unto me the old time when the gods Descended from Heaven to the daughters of men, And embraced the daughters of men, And begat with them Sceptre-bearing races of Kings, And Heroes, world-renowned, But stand not amazed, my child, any longer At my divinity, But give me some tea with hot rum, I beseech you, For it's cold outside, And on such a raw night Even we shiver, we gods eternal, And easily catch we most heavenly colds, And coughs divinely immortal."
Water Folk : a song sequence
Song Cycle by Martin Edward Fallas Shaw (1875 - 1958)
1. The stranger  [sung text not yet checked]
- by Kate Freiligrath Kroeker (1845 - 1904) [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
2. The meeting  [sung text not yet checked]
All under the lime-trees the music sounds, And lads and lasses dance there, too; A couple are dancing whom no one knows, They are tall, and of noble air, too. To and fro in a weirdlike way, They glide and meander slowly; They smile to each other, they wave their heads, The lady whispers lowly: "My fine young fellow, in your cap A water-pink is twined, sir; It only grows at the roots of the sea,-- You come not of Adam's kind, sir. "You are a Merman; to beguile These village beauties you wish, eh? I knew you at the very first glance By your teeth so sharp and fishy." To and fro, in a weirdlike way, They glide and meander slowly; They smile to each other, they wave their heads, The young man whispers lowly: "My pretty maiden, tell me why As cold as ice your hand is? Ay, tell me why your white robe's hem As moist as the wet sea-sand is? "I knew you at the very first, By your curtsey all so tricksy; -- No mortal child of earth are you, You are my cousin, the Nixie." The fiddles are silent, the dance is done, They part with a courtly greeting; They know each other, alas ! too well, So shun any future meeting.
- by Theodore Martin, Sir, KCB KCVO (1816 - 1909), "A meeting", appears in Poems Selected from Heinrich Heine, ed. by Kate Freiligrath Kroeker, London: Walter Scott, Limited, pages 219-220, first published 1887 [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
- a text in German (Deutsch) by Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856), "Begegnung", appears in Neue Gedichte, in Romanzen, no. 22
Go to the single-text viewResearcher for this text: Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]
3. Poseidon  [sung text not yet checked]
The sunbeams were playing Lightly over the billowy ocean; Far out at sea I saw shining the ship That was to bear me homewards; But the right wind as yet was wanting, And tranquilly on the white sands I was sitting By the lonely sea, And I read the song of Ulysses, That old, that ever youthful song, From whose ocean-murmuring leaves Rose joyfully The breath of the gods, And the sunny spring of mankind, And the cloudless sky of fair Hellas. My noble and faithful heart accompanied The son of Laertes in toil and disaster: It sat down with him, grieving in spirit, At kindly hearths, Where queens sat spinning deep rich purple; It helped him to lie and to escape deftly From giants' caves and from nymphs' white arms; It followed him into Kimmerian night, Through storm and through shipwreck, And suffered with him unspeakable anguish. Sighing said I, "Revengeful Poseidon, Thy anger is awful, And myself am afraid Of my own return home." Scarcely had I spoken the words, When the sea foamed up high, And from the white-crested billows arose The head of the god, crowned with sea-weed, And cried he, contemptuous: "Fear not, my dear little Poet! I've no intention to harm in the least Thy poor little bark, Nor frighten thee out of thy poor little wits With too boist'rous a rocking: For thou, little Poet hast never incensed me, Thou never hast shaken the smallest turret Of the holy city of Priam; Nor hast thou singed e'en a single hair From the eye of my son Polyphemus; And never as yet has the Goddess of Wisdom Pallas Athenae, stood counselling beside thee." Thus cried out Poseidon, And dived back into the ocean; And at the vulgar old sailor's joke I heard Amphitrite, the coarse fish-woman, And the silly daughters of Nereus, Giggling beneath the waters.
- by Kate Freiligrath Kroeker (1845 - 1904), "Poseidon", appears in Poems and Ballads of Heinrich Heine [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]