Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII. 1876–79.

Asia Minor: Troy


By Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805)

Translated by J. H. Merivale

JOY in Troja’s courts abounded

Ere the lofty ramparts fell;

Hymns of jubilee resounded

From the golden-chorded shell.

Now from fields of strife and slaughter

Rests at peace each valiant head,

While to Priam’s fairest daughter

Peleus’ godlike son must wed.

There, bedecked with boughs of laurel,

Where the columned fanes extend,

Troop on troop, in bright apparel,

To the Thymbrian’s altar bend.

Through the streets the Bacchic madness

Rushing comes with hollow swell,

And on thoughts of silent sadness

One alone is left to dwell.

Joyless most where joy exceeded,

Did Cassandra’s footsteps rove,

Lonely, desolate, unheeded,

Through Apollo’s laurel grove.

Mid the forest depths slow winding

Wandered the prophetic maid,

And, her sacred locks unbinding,

Flung to earth the mystic braid.

“Joy forgotten—bliss forsaken—

Each exulting bosom shares;

And the sires new hopes awaken,

And glad pomp the sister wears.

I alone must inly sorrow,

Whom the sweet illusions fly,

Who behold the fatal morrow,

Winged with ruin, hover nigh.

“Lo, a torch! I see it flaring—

Not, alas! in Hymen’s hand—

In the clouds behold it glaring,—

But ’t is not an altar-brand.

Lo! the festal board they ’re spreading;

But my full foreboding mind

Marks the fateful footsteps treading

Of the gloomy god behind.

“And they call my moaning madness,

And they mock my bosom’s smart:

Lonely then, in silent sadness,

Let me wear my burdened heart.

By the happy shunned, discarded,

Scorn of pleasure’s frolic ring,

Heavy falls thy lot awarded,

Pythian god!—remorseless king!

“Wherefore hath thy fatal kindness

My awakened sense decreed,

In this land of utter blindness

Thy dark oracles to read?

Visual sense too perfect lending,

Why withhold the warding power?

It must fall—the doom impending,—

Must draw on—the dreaded hour.

“Wherefore lift the veil, where terror

Darkly hovering threats our breath?

Life itself is naught but error,

And to know—alas! is death.

Hide, O, hide fate’s dreary portal!

Make mine eyes from blood-stain free!

’T is a fearful thing, the mortal

Vessel of thy truth to be.

“My blest ignorance restore me,

And the joys that once were mine!

Ne’er came strains of gladness o’er me

Since my voice hath echoed thine.

Thou, the thankless future giving,

Didst the present render vain;

Vain the hope, the bliss of living,—

Take thy false gift back again!

“With the bridal chaplet never

Might my perfumed locks be crowned,

Since thy servant I, forever,

At the altar’s foot was bound.

All youth’s spring-tide sorrow-shaken,

Life consumed in ceaseless smart,

Each rude shock by Troy partaken

Smote on my presaging heart.

“Treading light youth’s sportive measures,

Others wake to life and love,—

All who shared my childhood’s pleasures;

I—can only anguish prove!

Spring, that clothes the earth in glory,

Brings no rapture to my mind.

Who that reads life’s coming story

Aught of bliss in life can find?

“Polyxene! for blest I hold thee,

Who, in bright illusions dressed,

Think’st this night he shall enfold thee,—

He—of Greeks the first and best.

See, with pride her bosom swelling—

Transports she can scarce contain—

Heavenly powers! yourselves excelling

In the dream that fires her brain.

“I too saw him, whom my beating

Heart its bosom-lord proclaimed,—

Saw his beauteous face entreating,

With the glow of love enflamed.

Then, methought, with him how brightly

Might my days domestic shine!

But a Stygian vision nightly

Stepped betwixt his arms and mine.

“All her pallid spectres yonder

From the queen of night repair:

Wheresoe’er I walk or wander—

Grisly shapes!—I see them there.

Even while frolic youth ran bounding,

Thronging still they on me pressed,

Ghastly crowds my path surrounding.—

No! I never can be blest.

“Murder’s steel—I see it glancing;

Murder’s eye—I see it glare.

Right or left my sight advancing,

Horror meets me everywhere.

Though I fain would ’scape, unwilling,—

Knowing, shuddering, fixed I stand,

And, my destiny fulfilling,

Perish in the stranger land.”

Scarce the voice prophetic ended,

Hark! wild clamors rolling spread,—

At the temple gate extended,

Thetis’ mighty son lies dead.

Discord rears her snaky tresses;

All the gods afar have flown;

And the thunder-cloud thick presses

Heavily o’er Ilion.