Nikolaus Lenau: “An Experience of Travel”

Excerpt, “English Echoes of German Song.” Tr. by R. E. Wallis, J. D. Morell and F. D’Anvers. Ed. by N. D’Anvers. London: 1877.

house in woods4



THE Birchen-stems in silver dight

I saw so palely gleaming,

As if on them, from out the night,

The moonlight still were beaming.


I saw a cottage in the grove,

The grove of Birches slender :

It beckoned me with friendly love

A welcome kind to tender.


For in the ruddy morning glow

Glistened each tiny casement ;

And walls with Roses all ablow

Were clothed from top to basement.


The trailing Vine-branch hung aloof,

Enriched with purple clusters ;

The doves sate cooing on the roof.

And made their morning musters.


The early lark with joyous spring,

Into the sky up-soarlng,

Sang out, and made the welkin ring,

From heaven its strains down-pouring.


Then thought I ;if that casement should

Sudden unclose to greet me ;

And if within my darling stood,

And thence tripped forth to meet me.


Of all my fancies, thou most fair !

Ah ! if to me ’twere given

Alone with her to dwell, and share

This peaceful forest-heaven !


With her to pass the Spring’s bright days,

At eve with her to wander,

And, of the nightingale’s sweet lays

The source, with her to ponder.


With her the wither’d leaves to watch

In Autumn’s blasts careering;

I’d teach her new delights to snatch

From old ones disappearing.


When trees are clothed in wintry dress,

My love sweet songs should sing me:

And then, what more of blessedness

Could earth or heaven bring me ?


I scarcely dared to breathe or stir,

Lest all these joys Elysian,

Cottage and Roses too, with her

Should vanish,all a vision !


But see ! From out the cottage door

An early huntsman sallies,

His dogs loud baying, bound before,

Adown the leafy alleys.


He followed in the woodland track,

And gave me fair good-morrow :

I gave him hasty greeting back ;

And went my way—in sorrow.