Page:1880. A Tramp Abroad.djvu/158

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146
TRANSLATION OF THE WORDS.

I have a prejudice against people who print things in a foreign language and add no translation. When I am the reader, and the author considers me able to do the translating myself, he pays me quite a nice compliment,—but if he would do the translating for me I would try to get along without the compliment.

If I were at home, no doubt I could get a translation of this poem, but I am abroad and can't; therefore I will make a translation myself. It may not be a good one, for poetry is out of my line, but it will serve my purpose,—which is, to give the un-German young girl a jingle of words to hang the tune on until she can get hold of a good version, made by some one who is a poet and knows how to convey a poetical thought from one language to another.

THE LORELEI.

I cannot divine what it meaneth,
 This haunting nameless pain:
A tale of the bygone ages
 Keeps brooding through my brain:
The faint air cools in the gloaming.
 And peaceful flows the Rhine,
The thirsty summits are drinking
 The sunset's flooding wine;
The loveliest maiden is sitting
 High-throned in yon blue air,
Her golden jewels are shining,
 She combs her golden hair;
She combs with a comb that is golden,
 And sings a weird refrain
That steeps in a deadly enchantment
 The list'ner's ravished brain:
The doomed in his drifting shallop,
 Is tranced with the sad sweet tone,
He sees not the yawning breakers,
 He sees but the maid alone:
The pitiless billows engulf him!—
 So perish sailor and bark;
And this, with her baleful singing,
 Is the Lorelei's grewsome work.