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

Teutoburger Wald

In the Teutoburger Forest

By Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810–1876)

Translated by F. Townsend

THESE ancient hills I see once more,

And that old grove of beech-trees green,

And, falling o’er yon rocky slope,

That dear old fountain’s sparkling sheen.

The ancient grove, the ancient heath,

Their gentle murmurs still repeat,

And those old friends, by rill and mead,

The blooming flowers my footsteps greet.

So bloomed they, when forth into life

I wandered from these hills away;

So lifted they their little heads,

And softly whispered to me, “Stay!”

But from the cliff and through the copse

I clambered down the mountain-side,

Where Ems and Lippe to the sea

My way through Senne’s plains did guide.

So went I forth!—To think that since

That day near fifty years have flown!

’T was here!—I look in wonder round;

At home, yet stranger here, unknown!

I went, a brown and ruddy boy;

With locks of iron gray, I come,

And laden with sad years, to rest

A moment in the woods of home!

As poor old Rip van Winkle once,

That forest-roving, careless wight,

Up in the mountains’ wild ravine,

With ghosts a frolic had one night,—

A night that lasted twenty years,—

His way then to the village took,

A bearded dreamer, dazed with grief,

In ragged dress, with vacant look;

Who, still a young man, when he went,

An old and feeble man was found;

Unknown, and strange, and almost shunned,

With timid glance be looked around,

To see names, faces, ways all new,

And (thought too strong for that weak mind)

Where he a monarchy had left,

A young republic there to find!—

So I return, oppressed with care;—

Who knows, alas, this stranger here?—

Hark, hark! A welcome hundred-fold,

From rock and hill and vale, I hear!

The kindly flowers nod their heads,

The gracious trees their branches shake,

And O, the best, the best of all,

The friends that press, my hand to take!

Thanks, thanks, ye dear and good and true,

Who ne’er could falter or deceive!

Thanks to the old friends and the new!

A grateful heart’s best thanks receive!

And ye, who peep like roses forth,

Among these bearded men, and tall,

Westphalia’s maidens, and her wives,—

My hearty thanks once more to all!

No, not like that old dreamer, I

Return from exile long and sad;

I were not worthy of such love,

If I that thought in earnest had!

Besides, what he, returning, found

(Which helped, no doubt, his heart to cheer),

A stanch republic, for your pains,

You have not yet established here!

And now I rest, with tranquil soul,

Upon a rock, in this old wood,

And dream, and think, since forth I went,

How much hath fortune sent of good!

The sum I reckon of my life,

Of all my efforts, my success,

And say, “I have not lived in vain,

And thankfully my fate I bless!”

By his own people to be loved,

O dearest aim of poet’s heart!”

A wreath, that lights upon my brow,

As angry thunder-clouds now part!

Have I deserved it? Dare I say?

Your love would fain these garlands weave!

In my right hand I proudly hold

What I with grateful heart receive!

And now my goblet joyously,

Filled to the very brim, I clasp,

E’en as my heart with love is filled,

And hold it high, with fervent grasp,

And cry to all the regions round,

The provinces on every hand,

Loud cry, from this old mountain’s brow,

“I thank thee, thank thee, Fatherland!”