Littell's Living Age/Volume 154/Issue 1996/La Source

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Littell's Living Age
by Théophile Gautier
translated by G. Christie

Volume 154, Issue 1996 : La Source
Originally published in Sunday Magazine.


Close to the lake, in a lonely glen,
     A streamlet ripples, and blithe and gay
It leaps from the rock to the haunts of men;
      "I have far to travel," it seems to say.

"What joy!" it murmurs with voice serene,
      "It was dark in the sunless depths I knew;
But now my banks are all clothed with green,
     And the sky smiles down on her mirrored blue.

"The blue myosotis, peeping out,
     Whispers 'forget-me-not' over my face;
The merry young dragon-flies glance about,
     And print with their tails a tiny trace.

"The wild bird quenches his thirst in me;
     And, after my windings through fields of flowers,
Who knows what a river I yet may be,
     Laying the valleys, and rocks, and towers?

"I shall fringe with foam, in the distant town,
     The great stone bridges, the dock's grey wall,
As I carry the smoking steamer down
     To the soundless ocean, the end of all."

And thus does the young spring chatter and yearn
     For a hundred joys it never may know,
As boiling water pent up in an urn
     Will simmer, and bubble, and overflow.

For the cradle is close to the silent grave,
     The giant, while yet but a babe, expires;
And the spring, just born, is gulfed in the wave
     Of the lake that swallows its high desires.