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


The Lily-Maidens

By August Schnezler (1809–1853)

Translated by J. C. Mangan

A Legend of the Black Forest

A NIGH the gloomy Mummel-See

Do live the palest lilies many:

All day they droop so drowsily,

In azure air and rainy;

But when the dreamful noon of night

Rains down on earth its yellow light,

Up spring they, full of lightness,

In woman’s form and brightness.

The sad reeds moan like spirits bound

Along the troubled water’s border,

As, hand-with-hand, linked wreathwise round,

The virgins dance in order,

Moonwhite in features as in dress,

Till o’er their phantom huelessness

A warmer color gushes,

And tints their cheeks with blushes.

Then pipe the reeds a sadder tune;

The wind raves through the tannen-forest;

The wolves in chorus bay the moon,

Where glance her gray beams hoarest;

And round and round the darkling grass

In mazy whirl the dancers pass,

And loudlier boom the billows

Among the reeds and willows.

But see!—the Giant-Elf anon

Half rises from the water’s bosom,

With streaming beard, and head whereon

Dank weeds for garlands blossom;

And, fiercely lifting towards the strand

A naked arm and clenchéd hand,

He shouts in tones of thunder

That wake the abysses under!

Then lake and winds and dancers rest:

And, as the water ceases booming,

The Elf cries, “Hence, ye shapes unblest,

And leave my lilies blooming!”

And lo! the streaky morn is up,

Dew-diamonds brim each flowret’s cup,

And Mummel’s lily-daughters

Once more bend o’er his waters.