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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Germany: Vols. XVII–XVIII. 1876–79.


A Summer Song

By Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810–1876)

Translated by K. F. Kroeker

IN lightning and in summer’s rain

In noon-sun hot and glowing,

Full gayly, O, Westphalia’s grain,

Art shooting up and growing!

Old Hellweg’s rye, so lithe and strong,

Seven feet and more thy stems are long,

How gloriously dost ripen!

“I grow and ripen fast and strong,

The year with gifts is mellow,

To satisfy both old and young

I ripen rich and yellow;

But dost thou not, O wanderer, know

That he who joyfully did sow

Can never cut and reap me?

“Forth through my swaying ears he went,

In rank and order starting,

With clenched fist and tearful eye

From house and home departing;

Loud summoned by the drum and horn,

He goes to crush his brother’s corn

In brother-war unhallowed.

“Who then for this year’s harvest-home

Will fetch the girls to foot it?

Alas! Who ’ll wave the harvest wreath,

Upon the barn who ’ll put it?

The reaper’s name is Death, I wot,

He mows this year with grape and shot;

Well know I who has hired him.

“A little bird sings on the Haar:

‘Where Elbe and Main are hieing,

There he, who was a plough-boy here,

All stiff and stark is lying;

His homestead’s pride, forth did he go,

A brother’s bullet laid him low!’

I rustle to the breezes.”