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

North Sea


By Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)

Translated by W. H. Hurlburt

THALATTA! Thalatta!

I greet thee, thou Ocean eternal!

I give thee ten thousand times greeting,

With heart all exulting,

As, ages since, hailed thee

Those ten thousand Greek hearts

Fate-conquering, home-yearning,

World-renowned Greek hearts.

The billows were rolling,

Were rolling and roaring,

The sun poured downward incessant

The flickering rose-lights;

Affrighted, the flocks of the sea-mews

Fluttered away, loud screaming;

The steeds were stamping, the shields were clanging,

And far, like a shout of victory, echoed

Thalatta! Thalatta!

Thou Ocean eternal, I greet thee!

Like the tongue of my home is the dash of thy waters!

Like dreams of my childhood now sparkle before me

All the wide curving waves of thy rolling dominions.

I hear, as told newly, the old recollections

Of the trifles I loved in the days of my boyhood.

Of the bright gifts that glittered at Christmas;—

Of the scarlet branches of coral,

Of the gold-fish, the pearls and gay sea-shells,

Of all that thou guardest in secret

Below in thy houses of crystal!

O, how have I languished,

Aweary in exile!

Like a poor faded flower shut up in an herbal

Lay my heart in my bosom;

’T is as if I had sat through the winter

A sick man shut up in my chamber,

And now I had suddenly left it,—

And dazzlingly glitters upon me

The emerald Spring, sun-awakened!

On the trees are the white blossoms rustling,

And the young flowers look up unto me,

With moist loving eyes full of beauty.

All is fragrance and murmurs and soft airs and laughter,

And in the blue heavens the birds are a singing

Thalatta! Thalatta!