by Friedrich von Schiller (1759 - 1805)
Translation by Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton (1803 - 1873)

Melancholy; To Laura
Language: English  after the German (Deutsch) 
LAURA! a sunrise seems to break
   Where'er thy happy looks may glow,
Joy sheds its roses o'er thy cheek,
Thy tears themselves do but bespeak
   The rapture whence they flow:
Blest youth to whom those tears are given -
The tears that change his earth to heaven;
His best reward those melting eyes -
For him new suns are in the skies!
Thy soul - a crystal river passing,
Silver-clear, and sunbeam-glassing,
Mays into bloom sad Autumn by thee;
Night and desert, if they spy thee,
To gardens laugh - with daylight shine,
Lit by those happy smiles of thine!
Dark with cloud the Future far
Goldens itself beneath thy star.
Smil'st thou to see the Harmony
   Of charm the laws of Nature keep?
Alas! to me the Harmony
   Brings only cause to weep!

Holds not Hades its domain
   Underneath this earth of ours?
Under Palace, under Fane,
   Underneath the cloud-capt Towers?
Stately cities soar and spread
O'er your mouldering bones, ye Dead!
From corruption, from decay,
   Springs yon clove pink's fragrant bloom;
Yon gay waters wind their way
   From the hollows of a tomb.
From the Planets thou may'st know
All the change that shifts below,
Fled - beneath that zone of rays,
Fled to Night a thousand Mays;
Thrones a thousand - rising - sinking,
Earth from thousand slaughters drinking
Blood profusely pour'd as water; -
Of the sceptre - of the slaughter -
Wouldst thou know what trace remaineth?
Seek them where the dark king reigneth!
Scarce thine eye can ope and close
Ere Life's dying sunset glows;
Sinking sudden from its pride
Into Death - the Lethe tide.
Ask'st thou whence thy beauties rise?
Boastest thou those radiant eyes? -
Or that cheek in roses dy'd?
All their beauty (thought of sorrow!)
From the brittle mould they borrow.
Heavy interest in the tomb
For the brief loan of the bloom,
For the beauty of the Day,
Death, the Usurer, thou must pay,
   In the long to-morrow!
Maiden! - Death's too strong for scorn;
   In the cheek the fairest, He
   But the fairest throne doth see;
Though the roses of the morn
Weave the veil by Beauty worn -
Aye, beneath that broidered curtain,
Stands the Archer stern and certain!
Maid - thy Visionary hear -
Trust the wild one as the seer,
When he tells thee that thine eye,
   While it beckons to the wooer,
Only lureth yet more nigh
   Death, the dark undoer!
Every ray shed from thy beauty
   Wastes the life-lamp while it beams,
And the pulse's playful duty,
   And the blue veins' merry streams,
Sport and run unto the pall -
Creatures of the Tyrant, all!
As the wind the rainbow shatters,
Death thy bright smiles rends and scatters,
Smile and rainbow leave no traces; -
From the spring-time's laughing graces,
From all life, as from its germ,
Grows the revel of the worm!
Woe, I see the wild wind wreak
   Its wrath upon thy rosy bloom,
Winter plough thy rounded cheek,
   Cloud and darkness close in gloom;
Blackening over, and for ever,
Youth's serene and silver river!
Love alike and Beauty o'er,
Lovely and belov'd no more!
Maiden, an oak that soars on high,
   And scorns the whirlwind's breath,
Behold thy Poet's youth defy
   The blunted dart of Death!
His gaze as ardent as the light
   That shoots athwart the Heaven,
His soul yet fiercer than the light
   In the Eternal Heaven
Of Him, in whom as in an ocean-surge
Creation ebbs and flows - and worlds arise and merge!
Thro' Nature steers the Poet's thought to find
No fear but this - one barrier to the Mind?
And dost thou glory so to think?
   And heaves thy bosom? - Woe!
This Cup, which lures him to the brink,
As if Divinity to drink -
   Has poison in its flow!
Wretched, oh, wretched, they who trust
To strike the God-spark from the dust!
The mightiest tone the Music knows,
   But breaks the harp-string with the sound;
And Genius, still the more it glows,
But wastes the lamp whose life bestows
   The light it sheds around.
Soon from existence dragg'd away,
The watchful gaoler grasps his prey;
Vowed on the altar of the abused fire,
The spirits I raised against myself conspire!
Let - yes, I feel it - two short springs away
   Pass on their rapid flight;
And life's faint spark shall, fleeting from the clay,
   Merge in the Fount of Light!
And weep'st thou, Laura? - be thy tears forhid;
Wouldst thou my lot, life's dreariest years amid,
   Protract and doom ? - No; sinner, dry thy tears!
Wouldst thou, whose eyes beheld the eagle wing
Of my bold youth through air's dominion spring,
Mark my sad age (life's tale of glory done) -
Crawl on the sod and tremble in the sun?
Hear the dull frozen heart condemn the flame
That as from Heaven to youth's blithe bosom came;
And see the blind eyes loathing turn from all
The lovely sins Age curses to recall?
   Let me die young! - sweet sinner, dry thy tears!
Yes, let the flower be gathered in its bloom!
And thou, young Genius, with the brows of gloom,
   Quench thou Life's torch, while yet the flame is strong!
Ev'n as the curtain falls; while still the scene
Most thrills the hearts which have its audience been;
As fleet the shadows from the stage -- and long
When all is o'er, lingers the breathless throng!


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Researcher for this text: Harry Joelson

This text was added to the website: 2008-01-05
Line count: 139
Word count: 908