by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)
Translation by Ernst Eckstein (1845 - 1900)

Beside the ungathered rice he lay
Language: English 
Beside the ungathered rice he lay,
   His sickle in his hand;
His breast was bare, his matted hair
   Was buried in the sand.
Again, in the mist and shadow of sleep,
   He saw his Native Land.

Wide through the landscape of his dreams
   The lordly Niger flowed;
Beneath the palm-trees on the plain
   Once more a king he strode;
And heard the tinkling caravans
   Descend the mountain-road.

He saw once more his dark-eyed queen
   Among her children stand;
They clasped his neck, they kissed his cheeks,
   They held him by the hand!--
A tear burst from the sleeper's lids
   And fell into the sand.

And then at furious [speed]1 he rode
   Along the Niger's bank;
His bridle-reins were golden chains,
   And, with a martial clank,
At each leap he could feel his scabbard of steel
   Smiting his stallion's flank.

Before him, like a blood-red flag,
   The bright flamingoes flew;
From morn till night he followed their flight,
   O'er plains where the tamarind grew,
Till he saw the roofs of Caffre huts,
   And the ocean rose to view.

At night he heard the lion roar,
   And the hyena scream,
And the river-horse, as he crushed the reeds
   Beside some hidden stream;
And it passed, like a glorious roll of drums,
   Through the triumph of his dream.

The forests, with their myriad tongues,
   Shouted of liberty;
And the Blast of the Desert cried aloud,
   With a voice so wild and free,
That he started in his sleep and smiled
   At their tempestuous glee.

He did not feel the driver's whip,
   Nor the burning heat of day;
For Death had illumined the Land of Sleep,
   And his lifeless body lay
A worn-out fetter, that the soul
   Had broken and thrown away!

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1: Coleridge-Taylor: "pace"

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Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

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  • Also set in Swedish (Svenska), a translation by Anonymous/Unidentified Artist , "Slavens dröm" ; composed by Emil Sjögren.

Other available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):


Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Andrew Schneider [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2010-04-12
Line count: 48
Word count: 288

Des Sclaven Traum
Language: German (Deutsch)  after the English 
Er lag beim ungesammelten Reis,
Die Sichel in der Hand,
Entblößt die Brust, das gebleichte Haar
Begraben in dem Sand.
Noch einmal im Nebel und Schatten des Schlafs
Sah er sein Heimathland.

Weit fluthet der Niger durch's grüne Gefild,
Und die Wogen kommen und flieh'n . . . 
Und wieder in dem Palmenhain
Schritt er als Furst dahin.
Und er hörte zu Thal mit Sang und Klang
Die Karavane zieh'n.

Er sah, wie hold sein liebes Weib
Im Kreis der Kinder stand;
Sie hingen sich zärtlich an seinen Hals,
Fromm hielten sie seine Hand.
Und von des Schläfers Wimpern rann
Eine Thräne in den Sand.

Dann ritt er kühn den Strom entlang
In windesschnellem Flug;
Gold war sein Zügel, blank das Schwert,
Das er zur Seite trug;
Wild klang es im Thal, wenn die Scheide von Stahl
Des Renners Flanke schlug.

Stolz zog der rothen Flamingo Schaar
Als Banner ihm voran;
Und er stürmt' ihnen nach, bei Nacht und bei Tag
Auf palmenbewachsener Bahn,
Bis fern zu den Hütten des letzten Stamms
Am donnernden Ocean.

Er hörte bei Nacht des Löwen Gebrüll,
Und den Panther am Waldessaum --
Das Flußpferd knickte das zitternde Rohr,
Und hochauf spritzte der Schaum;
Und es ging, wie stolzer Drommetenklang
Durch seinen Siegestraum.

Und "Freiheit!" scholl's durch den nächtlichen Wald,
Und "Freiheit!" überall.
Und der glühende Sturm der Wüste rief's,
Und der tosende Wasserfall.
Und er bebte im Traum und lächelte mild
Beim jauchzenden Wiederhall.

Er fühlte des Vogtes Peitsche nicht,
Noch des Tages Hitze und Noth.
Auf dem friedlich schlummernden Antlitz lag's 
Wie seliges Morgenroth . . . 
Der Bann war gebrochen, die Kette gesprengt,
Und die Freiheit erobert im Tod.

Confirmed with Ernst Eckstein, In Moll und Dur, Leipzig: Verlag von Johann Friedrich Hartknoch, 1877, pages 165-167.


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Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

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Researcher for this text: Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2022-04-14
Line count: 48
Word count: 276