Literary Gazette, 28th March, 1835, Pages 202-203
VERSIONS FROM THE GERMAN.
(Fifth Series: continued.)
Count Egmont, a Tragedy.—Goethe.
Count Egmont’s Soliloquy In Prison.
The chain is on his hand and on his wrist—
Even the narrow limits of his cell
He cannot trace. How drearily the light
From the sepulchral lamp falls o'er the walls,
Which gleam with constant damp. On every stone
Are graven melancholy characters;
Names that are histories. He cannot rest,
That captive warrior, for his pulses beat
With an impatient sense of injury;
His brow is feverish with unquiet thoughts;
And though he folds his arms as if to sleep,
It will not visit him.
Old friend and true companion! soothing Sleep,
Yes fly, like other friends. How easily
Did your sweet influence fall on my free head,
Cool like a lovely crown of myrtle boughs.
Beloved Sleep! amid the clash of arms,
On the rough torrent of unquiet life,
I rested, breathing lightly as a child,
Weary and cradled in your mother arms.
When the storm swept the leaves from off the bough,
And rushed thro' crashing branches, yet my heart
Was in its depths untroubled,—and I slept.
What is it now shakes my tranquillity?
It is the axe's clang laid to my roots.
I shudder as I stand—I feel my fall
Before it comes. The traitors will prevail!
Thundering amid the forest comes the oak
Down upon earth, while yet its crown is green.
Yet wherefore now—thou who so oft hast driven,
Like the soap bubbles on the air dispersed,
So many heavy cares away—why now
Can I not do as I have frequent done
A thousand times—flung off their weight with thee?
Since when has death grown fearful; with whose face,
As with familiar images of life,
Thou hast been wont to live; what ails thee, Sleep!