Translation:The Fair Magelone/I

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The Fair Magelone (1797)
by Ludwig Tieck, translated from German by Wikisource
Section 1
1141492The Fair Magelone — Section 11797Ludwig Tieck

1: Introduction

Has it ever, dear reader, afflicted you so very heavily in your soul how sad it is that the rushing wheel of the time goes round and round without repose, and that which was formerly exalted is now cast down? Thus do fame, glory, splendour and world-renowned beauty pass away, just as the golden clouds of evening sink behind the distant mountains and leave in their wake for but a brief moment a weak yellow glow: night draws on seriously and solemnly; armies of black clouds pass by beneath the starry splendour; and as the last light is extinguished, its place is taken by fear. The wind blows through the forest of oak trees and the cottager forgets the red tint of the evening. Perhaps in the corner a boy is sitting, lost in his thoughts; he sees in the dim glow of the lamp a picture of the joyful dawn; he fancies even that he can hear the lively cockcrow and feel the cool breeze rustling through the leaves, awakening the flowers of the meadow from their quiet sleep; he forgets himself and gradually dozes off as the fire burns out. Then he dreams, and everything appears before him in the splendour of the Sun: the well-known homeland, across which wonderful and strange shapes stride; trees grow up which he has never seen before; they seem to speak to him, as though they wish to express to him human feeling, love and trust. How he feels himself befriended by the whole world! How everything looks at him with tender pleasure! The shrubs whisper words of love in his ear as he passes by. Innocent lambs crowd around him. The spring seems with enticing murmurs to want to take him with it. The grass springs up under his feet fresh and green.

In this picture, dear reader, the poet may appear to you, and he asks that he be allowed to bring forth his dream for you: that old story, which amused many others, which was forgotten, and which he would like to clothe with new light.

The poet sees tombstones with moss overgrown,
Which by none of his friends are known,
Then he feels that in the light of the Moon
Pious anticipation burns in his bosom.
He stands and reflects, all the groves are murmuring,
That which separates him from the dead passes away,
In joyous fright he calls them as old friends.

Gladly do I wander in the silent distance,
In the pious days of our fathers
I see how everyone is so fond of
The good old fairytales,
Repeated often they delight one still,
They return like the same time,
The listener feels the joy and the pain of life,
Love's charming glimmers of spring.

Would you like to hear the old tones?
The song from days long gone?
Forgive the singer, whom it so infatuated,
That he begins to announce the tale.