Ferdinand Freiligrath: “The Amphitrite”

From ‘Poems from the German of Ferdinand Freiligrath’ 1826-1840, translated by G.E. Shirley




Seest thou the Amphitrite

At anchor yonder lie?

A festal gleam lies round her,

The crimson streamers fly.


Hauled to the yards are hanging,

The sails now laid aside,

The foam-lipped sea-god kisses

The cheeks of his sea-bride.


She’s newly reached the haven,

From the Far East arrived,

Has braved the tempest’s fury

And tropic heat survived.


The Captain by the main-mast

Stands girt with cincture red,

Nor knows what guest he harboured

As home the good ship sped.


’Tis May the young, the blooming,

Who calls the South his home,

That in the stately vessel

O’er the blue wave has come.


On India’s strand reclining,

’Neath Banyon shades he lay,

And saw the ship weigh anchor,

Prepared to sail away.


Upon the sand up sprang he,

His sandal-string to tie,

To gather up his raiment,

Soft shawls of richest dye.


Then toward the sea he darted,

Leaped headlong in the tide,

Nor rest he till he’s grasping,

The rope at the ship’s side.


With nimble step and daring,

Unseen by all the crew,

He swung on board the vessel,

Straightway the land-wind blew.


As soon as in the haven,

The brig had safely come,

Bedecked with gayest colors,

At once to land he swum.


The storks with flight prophetic

Are floating on before;

A juggler, a magician,

He steps upon our shore.


He clothes the trees with verdure,

Bare plots with flowers he fills,

Bids hyacinths to blossom,

Gay tulips, daffodils.


The earth in marvelous splendour

He decks; bright hues appear,

Thanks, bold Lascar! and welcome,

Lithe swimmer, welcome here!


Seest thou the Amphitrite

At anchor yonder lie?

A festal gleam plays round her,

The crimson streamers fly.