Ernst Moritz Arndt: “The Seaman’s Dream”

Excerpt, “German Poetry with The English Versions of The Best Translations.” Edited by H.E. Goldschmidt. 1869. Translator: Rev. W.W. Skeat


The Seaman’s Dream


Foam crests the waves, the storm-cloud lowers,

Athwart dark skies the lightning gleams;

Yet, stretched on deck ’mid spray and showers,

An aged seaman nods and dreams,

Tho’ wildly round the waters swell,

Tho’ to and fro the vessel rocks,

A dream with sweet alluring spell,

Too bright for truth, his vision mocks.


He marks, from out the foaming seas,

An island rise, with verdure crowned;

From flowery groves sweet melodies

Burst forth with soul-entrancing sound.

“Behold,” he cries, “the happy shore!

Our port, our long-wished haven see!

At length comes rest; wild storms no more

Shall rage, and sweet my sleep shall be!”


Thro’ night’s thick gloom a lightning-flash,

God’s flaming dart, shoots down from heaven;

’Mid anguished cries, with deafening crash,

The gallant ship in twain is riven.

Black spars and corpses high on shore

Are scattered by the rolling sea—

Thy port is gained, storms rage no more;

Fond dreamer, sweet thy sleep shall be!