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


Dialogue on the Paderborn Heath

By Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)

Translated by C. G. Leland

“HEAR’ST thou not far music ringing,

Viol sweet, and organ sounding?

Many a lovely form is springing,

In yon elf-dance flitting, bounding.”

“How, my friend? your mind must wander,

Or my hearing ’s strangely blunted:

I can hear no fiddling yonder;

Only swine which just now grunted.”

“Hear’st thou not the bugle pealing?

Hunters blithe through greenwood straying,

Lambs I see o’er meadows stealing,

Shepherds on their reed pipes playing.”

“Ah, my friend, your ears are humming:

There ’s no pipe or bugle pealing;

I but see a swineherd coming,

And before him pigs a-squealing.”

“Hear’st thou not melodious measure,

As a strife of voices singing?

Angels hear it, rapt in pleasure,

Beating time on pinions swinging.”

“That which seemed to you so pleasant

Was no heavenly minstrels’ striving;

Friend, it ’s just a little peasant

Singing as his geese he ’s driving!”

“Hear’st thou church-bells as if talking,

Sweetly, strangely, wildly flowing?

See the congregation walking,

Calmly to the chapel going!”

“Ah, my friend, it ’s but the tinkling

From the distant cow-bells given,

As the kine, by starlight twinkling,

Slowly to their stalls are driven.”

“See yon fluttering veil,—O, wonder!

See,—a beckoning form advances!

’T is my loved one standing yonder,

Tearful sorrow in her glances!”

“Ah, my friend, she who approaches

Is Old Liz, from the wood’s shadow;

Pale and tottering on her crutches,

She goes limping towards the meadow.”

“Smile, dear friend, that so I borrow

Forms for such fantastic seeming:

O that all my heart’s deep sorrow

Thou couldst turn to idle dreaming!”