MY peace is gone,
My heart’s in pain;
I’ll never, never
Find peace again.
Where he cannot be
Is a grave for me,
The world and all
Is turned to gall.
My poor, poor head
Is gone astray,
My sense has fled
Oh, quite away.
THE LEAVES are falling, falling as from far,
As if far gardens in the skies were dying;
They fall, and ever seem to be denying.
And in the night the earth, a heavy ball,
Into a starless solitude must fall.
We all are falling. My own hand no less
Than all things else; behold, it is in all.
Yet there is One who, utter gentleness,
Holds all this falling in His hands to bless.
WERE I a little bird
And had two little wings,
I’d fly to thee;
But I must stay, because
That cannot be.
Though I be far from thee,
In sleep I dwell with thee,
Thy voice I hear.
But when I wake again,
Then all is drear.
Each nightly hour my heart
With thoughts of thee will start,
When I’m alone;
For thou hast a thousand times
Pledged me thine own.
I HEARD a sickle rustling,
A-rustling through the grain,
I heard a maid lamenting,
That she had lost her swain.
“Dear, let it rustle, rustle!
I heed not, how it goes:
For I have won a lover,
Where the green clover grows.”
“And hast thou won a lover,
Where thyme and clover grow:
Then I stand here so lonely,
My heart is sore with woe!”
WHO never ate his bread in tears,
Who never through the mournful night
Sat weeping on his bed with fears—
He knows not, heavenly powers, your might!
You plunge him into life amain,
You lead him into sin from dearth,
Then leave the poor man to his pain—
For all sin is revenged on earth.
I AM thine, thou art mine,
And this shall be a sure sign:
Locked fast thou art
Within my heart,
And lost forever is the key;
So thou inside must ever be.
Anonymous, 12th century, presumably a nun from the monastery Tegernsee, found at the end of a Latin love letter. This is the oldest extant German poem. Translation by Margarete Münsterberg, first published 1916.
UNDISTURBED the pool reposes,
And the moon with silver sheen
Weaves upon it pallid roses
In the sedges’ wreath of green.
Stags, upon the hillside erring,
Upward in the darkness glance,
Wildfowl in the sedge are stirring,
Now and then, as in a trance.
Down I gaze, my tears are flowing;
Through my soul’s depth unaware
Tender thoughts of thee are going,
Like a silent evening prayer.
YOU see, where’er you look, but vanity on earth:
To-morrow they’ll tear down what we have built to-day,
And peaceful herds will graze and shepherds’ children play
On fields where now the lively cities boast their worth.
All that is blooming now must lie in sorry dearth;
The hearts that beat in pride will turn to ashes grey.
No marble and no ore, nay, nothing here can stay.
Now happiness may smile before some sorrow’s birth.
The glory of high deeds must vanish like a dream.
Oh, how can man withstand the flow of time’s fleet stream?
Yea, what is all that we have deemed so wondrous great,
But worthless trifles, only shadows, wind and dust,
A flower of the field, that on the road is thrust.
And yet eternal things man will not contemplate.
THREE fellows were marching over the Rhine,
They stopped where they saw the hostess’ sign.
“Dear hostess, have you good beer and wine?
Where have you your daughter so fair and fine?”
“My beer is good, my wine is clear,
My daughter is lying upon the bier.”
Now into the chamber she led the way,
There in a black coffin the maiden lay.
The first man drew the veil aside,
And full of sorrow the maid espied.
“Ah, beautiful maiden, if thou couldst live!
To thee alone my love I would give!”
The second laid back the veil again,
And turned away and wept in pain.
“Oh, why must thou lie upon the bier!
Alas, I have loved thee for many a year.”
The third man lifted again the veil,
And kissed her upon the lips so pale:
“I loved thee always, I love thee to-day,
And I will love thee forever and aye.”