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

Laach, the Lake

Good Morning

By Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810–1876)

Translated by J. R. Chorley

DOWN I gazed from Eifel’s ridges wooded,

As the moon at full the clouds ’gan break;

Far and dazzling white, her lustre flooded

Laach’s monastic walls and tranquil lake.

Gently breathed low winds across the valley,

Leaves and sedges whispered round the strand;

From the flood arose, and beckoned palely,

Fair and slim, the Nun’s mysterious hand.

Like a flower afar, it glimmered whitely,

Rose and fell as heaved the water slow;

Round it, mirrored stars were shining brightly,—

Were they charmed from heaven to shine below?

Still the spotless hand the sign repeated;

Shuddering swelled the wave with surging flow;

Lights unearthly through the branches fleeted;

O’er the crossway leapt the frightened roe.

Was ’t the hind, that Genoveva mourning

Long attended, and her tears consoled?

O, there seized me then a sore sweet yearning

For the holy fable-world of old!

Nearly, then, yon pallid hand obeying,

Had I followed to its magic cell;

But, with force awaked, myself arraying

’Gainst myself, I rose above the spell.

Lake and abbey, spires of rock and turret,

Wood and vale, where Genoveva mourned:

From the scene, with moonlight glancing o’er it,

With one look, my last, I firmly turned.

Hastening thence, by tangled paths, while ever

On the leaves the wildering moonlight lay,

Toward the morning, and my native river;—

From the night to welcome in the day!

So for real life I left my dreaming;

Shades and ghosts forsook without a sigh:

Yonder, lo!—in joyous sunlight gleaming,

Deep and broad and green, the Rhine rushed by!

Rushed the Rhine;—and life in motion met me;

Yes! these shores to life my heart invite;

Nor like those I left, extend to greet me,

Spectral hands, and lifeless fingers white.

No! the grasp of welcome undissembling,

From my people’s frank and faithful hands,

That, with reverence due, but never trembling.

By the mark, resolved, for Justice stands.

O, it chased, with ghosts and idle yearning,

All of night that on my bosom lay.

To my nation, then, I bade “Good Morning!”

Next, God willing, shall I bid “Good Day!”

So “Good Morning!” Free I choose my station

With the people, and their cause make mine.

“Poet, march and labor with thy nation!”

Thus I read, to-day, my Schiller’s line.