Franz von Dingelstedt: “Ebb and Flood”

.Excerpt, “Translations From The German Poets.” Edward Stanhope Pearson. 1879.


girl sea



The maiden paced along the shore,

Around her heart ‘twas well, ‘twas sore,

She spake: “thou wild, thou vasty sea,

What is’t inconstant driveth thee

That now in ebb, in flood again

Thy vex’d heart can no rest obtain?”


Thereat the sea its answer brought,

“It is the Moon who this hath wrought,

When her bright track approacheth me

I hasten heavenwards with glee,

But when her form retreating flies

I follow her with longing sighs.”


The maiden pensive whispered low:

“Now, heart, thy secret well I know.

Thee too doth rule a lofty star

Which now is near, and now is far.

T’wards him, all joyous thou dost strain,

For him, all trembling, pin’st again.


Flow on, O sea, O heart, ebb still!

And both is good, and both is ill.

When Love no more the world doth sway,

What resteth? All hath passed away.

Come bitter joy, come sorrow suave,

And rock me on thy changeful wave!”


Methinks, thou surely must be feeling

How oft, how true thou’rt in my mind,

What time in summer night comes stealing

As ’twere my voice upon the wind.

As though in every star that’s burning

Thou read’st as in an open book

My greetings still and full of yearning;

Not else thy absence could I brook.


E’en now, the blue sea waves careering

’Twixt thee and me a barrier stand,

Thou for the fatherland art steering,

I linger still on foreign strand,

No bridge the waste of waters spanneth,

No path to lead me to thy side,

Time’s iron hand may access banneth

And dreary days my plaint deride.


And yet, my ground I’ve not forsaken,

My anchor ground in storm’s domain,

I’ll trust my love for thee unshaken,

Which draws as with magnetic chain.

Thou feel’st it, in thy dreams thou’st wondered,

My form before thine eyes doth play,

Thus, spite of paths too early surrendered

I know that we shall meet one day.