Translation:The Fair Magelone/XVI

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The Fair Magelone  (1797)  by Ludwig Tieck, translated from German by Wikisource
Section 16

16: The Knight's Voyage

By now the Count of Provence and his wife were very worried because they had heard nothing of their beloved son. His mother was particularly anxious, for she pined to see her only son after such a long time. She often spoke with the count of her grief, lamenting that her beautiful son had probably perished. Then one day a feast was decreed, and a fisherman brought a large fish to the count's kitchen. When the cook cut the fish open, he found three rings in its belly, which he brought to the Countess. The Countess was exceedingly amazed when she saw the rings, for she recognized them as the very ones she had given to her son. So she said to her husband:

Now I am comforted, because I have suddenly and in such a wonderful way received tidings of my son. I am also convinced that God has not abandoned him, but will restore him to our arms after he had endured many hardships.

Peter stood on the deck of the ship, gazing constantly in the direction where his dear homeland lay. The voyage was a happy one; they landed at a small uninhabited island to get some fresh water. The whole crew went ashore, including Peter. He passed through a charming vale, and disappeared behind some hills into the countryside. There he sat down and looked at the many beautiful flowers that surrounded him. They all looked at him as though with friendly, loving eyes, and he thought deeply of Magelone, and how she had loved him.

How can a lover, he exclaimed, ever feel lonely? Do not these blue-bells remind me of her charming eyes? Does not this golden leaf remind me of her tresses? Does not the beauty of this lily and rose side by side remind me of her tender cheeks? It is as though the wind blowing through these flowers were trying to sound her sweet name, as though on the strings of a lute. Springs and trees call her name: inaudible to the rest of mankind, but to me loud and clear.

He recalled a song he had written long before, and he recited it now:

Sweet it is to follow thoughts
That guide us to our beloved,
Where from flower-covered heights
Sunbeams spread.

The lilies say: Our tint
It is that adorns her cheek.
Our lustre appears the loveliest:
Thus speak the blue violets.

And with a soft blush
The roses smile from wantonness.
Cool evening breezes gently waft
Through the loving glow.

All you sweet little flowers,
Be it colour, be it form,
Depict with loving power
My beloved's bright countenance.
Do not quarrel, O delicate little flowers.

Roses, scented narcissi,
Every flower shines more beautiful
When it kisses her bosom
Or hangs in her curls.
Blue violets, variegated carnations,
When she plucks them for an ornament,
Are happy to wither as her finery,
Blessed with a sweet death.

These flowers are my teachers,
And I do as they do.
I follow them, as they taught me.
Ah! I would give anything
To be able to rest on her bosom.

Not for years do they serve her.
No: for just a short, brief spell.
Then they die in her arms.
They die with no wish left unfulfilled.

Ah! How many flowers lament
Alone here in this quiet valley.
They wither before the sunrise;
They die at the first sign of dawn.
Ah, it is so bitter and heartfelt,
The sharp pain that gnaws at me too.
It is the fear that I will never again
Behold her and all my happiness.


He wept bitterly, as he sang the last words of the song, because he thought that his heart was warning him of impending disaster. He looked with tearful eyes at the labyrinth of flowers that surrounded him, and it was delightful for him to arrange the flowers in his imagination in such a way that they spelled out Magelone's monogram. Then he listened to the whispering grass, which seemed to be speaking to him, and to the flowers, which were bowing tenderly to one another as though they wished to hold a passionate conversation about love. In the whole of nature, he saw loving concord; every sound played on his ears like a melodious song. He lost himself more and more in his dreams. Tired of weeping, he finally fell asleep among the flowers, and he dreamt that he could hear Magelone's name being cried aloud; and his heart opened out like a bud, and he was overcome with joy.