Novalis: “Zulima”

Excerpt, “German Lyric Poetry:  A Collection of Songs and Ballads.”  Translated from the Best German Lyric Poets, with Notes by Charles Timothy Brooks.  1863.  Translation by Sarah H. Whitman.


Song of Zulima, the Arabian Captive


Still must childhood’s happy dream

Haunt me ’neath these hostile skies?

Ever shall hope’s fitful gleam

Were before my weary eyes?

Ever shall they roam in vain

O’er the wide and restless main?


Couldst thou see the myrtle bowers,

See the cedar’s dusky hair,

Where my sisters, crowned with flowers,

Lingered in the dewy air!

Couldst thou see them lead the dance

’Neath the pale moon’s silver glance.


Youthful lovers bowed the knee

Noble warriors from afar;

Tender songs arose to me

Ever with the evening star.

For love and honor death to dare

Was the manly watch-word there, —


There, where smiling heavens lend

To the seas a golden glow,

Where the warm, balsamic waves

Round the shelving woodlands flow;

Where ’mid thousand fruits and flowers

Wild birds haunt the leafy bowers.


Fades the dream of youth and love;

Far away my native halls;

Lowly lies the myrtle grove;

Mouldering stand the castle walls.

Sudden as the lightning’s brand,

Pirates scathed the smiled land.


Lurid flames flashed wild and high;

Clashing sabres, stamping steeds,

Mingle with the midnight cry:

None the suppliant victim heeds.

Fathers, brothers, could not save;

Pirates bore us o’er the wave.


Still my heart is fondly yearning,

As I pace the barren strand;

Still mine eyes through tears are turning

To that far-off mother-land,

Ever wandering in vain

O’er the wide and restless main.