Bohemian legends and other poems/The Forest Nymph

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Bohemian legends and other poems  (1896)  translated by Flora Pauline Wilson Kopta
⁠ The Forest Nymph by Adolf Heyduk


Wander not in the dark forest,
Where a woman roams at will,
And that woman is a wood nymph,
Charming hearts to every ill.”

Charming hearts? With what, my mother?”
With her eyes of teuderest blue—
But a little while it lasteth—
But a day, and then they rue.

Treacherous is that nymph of forest,
Many youths hath led astray;
Many she has left heart-broken,
Many she has killed away.”

And where wanders she, my mother?”
By a rock, near fir trees tall.
She is queen of all the wood nymphs,
And the forest hidden thrall.

When the moon at full is shining,
On the trees and creeping things,
She goes wandering in the forest,
And a wondrous song she sings.

Wander not in the dark forest,
Where a woman roams at will,
And this woman is a wood nymph,
Charming hearts to every ill.”

The day is passed, night draweth near,
He kissed his mother softly,
Good-night,” he said, “may Heaven send
A dream most fair and lovely.”

The night advanced, the moon came forth,
Upon his bed he watched her.
He thought upon the lovely nymph,
He longed to go and see her.

The moon rose high its silvery sheen,
Danced in the forest’s gloom;
And every dark twig beckoned now,
And called him to his doom.

The youth sat up he quickly thought—
Too quickly then arose,
With hasty care he clothed himself
With his best Sunday clothes.

He smoothed his coat, then slipped behind
The cottage, walking quickly.
He reached the rock, with fir trees dark,
That looked down wickedly.

Upon a rock, beneath a fir,
The forest nymph is singing.
The youth came quickly to her side,
In her blue eyes he’s gazing.

Oh, those blue eyes, so soft and fair
Entice the poor boy’s passion;
His heart throbs with his new-born love,
In an unwonted fashion.

Before she ended all was lost—
He clasped her in his arms;
The forest trees looked darkly down,
The moon shone with her charms.

They kissed each other many times,
And then the nymph said slowly,
Promise me, youth, no other lips
You’ll kiss, however holy?”

He promised—and went home at last,
But sleep had fled away.
The moon grew pale, his mother rose,
He too, rose up that day.

But why so pale and wan, my son—
Say, have you any pain?”
I could not sleep the whole night long,
For the moonlight shining plain.”

And when his mother slept in pecae,
And all the stars were shining,
The youth beheld her once again,
Amidst the pine trees sighing.

He saw the woman—heard her song,
Resound in forest lonely.
Before the youth she glided on,
He followed somewhat slowly.

He followed, followed on her steps—
A precipice is yawning—
She glides before—he steps behind—
Alas! love and its longing!

In the dark field, beneath the rock,
On moss the youth lies sleeping,
On high the pale moon casts her light
On the dead face, past weeping.

At home his mother sorrows sad;
The wood nymph killed her son.
Because he kissed his mother dear,
The poor youth’s days were done.