Heinrich Heine: Ad Finem

The years they come and go,
The races drop in the grave,
Yet never the love doth so
Which here in my heart I have.

Could I see thee but once, one day,
And sink down so on my knee,
And die in thy sight while I say,
“Lady, I love but thee!”


Written 1823–24. Translation by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Heinrich Heine: Two Grenadiers

TO France there wandered two grenadiers,
In Russia once captives made.
To German quarters they came after years,
And bowed their heads, dismayed.

And there they were sorrowful tidings told
That France was lost—and repelled,
Destroyed and defeated the army bold—
And the emperor captive held.

The grenadiers wept grievously
When told this mournful lore.
Then said the one: “Ah, woe is me,
How my old wound is sore!”

“The song is sung” the other said,
“I too would die with thee;
But wife and child, if I were dead,
Would perish utterly.”

“For wife and child what do I care!
Far better longings I know:
As hungry beggars let them fare—
My emperor, emperor—woe!

“But grant me, brother, one only prayer:
Now when I here shall die,
My body take to France and there
In French earth let me lie!

“My cross of honour with scarlet band
Upon my heart be placed;
And put my gun into my hand,
My sword gird round my waist!

“Then quietly I’ll lie and hark,
A sentry in my tomb,
Till I the horses’ prancing mark,
And hear the cannon’s boom.

“Then my emperor rides across my grave,
And swords will be clashing hard:
And armed I’ll rise up from my grave,
My emperor to guard!”


Written 1816. Translation by Margarete Münsterberg, first printed 1916.

Heinrich Heine: I Love This White and Slender Body

I LOVE this white and slender body,
These limbs that answer Love’s caresses,
Passionate eyes, and forehead covered
With heavy waves of thick, black tresses.

You are the very one I’ve searched for
In many lands, in every weather.
You are my sort; you understand me;
As equals we can talk together.

In me you’ve found the man you care for.
And, for a while, you’ll richly pay me
With kindness, kisses and endearments—
And then, as usual, you’ll betray me.


The original (Ich liebe solche weiße Glieder) was first published in Neue Gedichte, 1844.
The translation by Louis Untermeyer was published in Poetica Erotica 1921.

Blog at WordPress.com.