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


The Water Sprite

By Andreas Justinus Kerner (1786–1862)

Translated by A. Baskerville

IT was in the balmy glow of May,

The maidens of Tübingen danced so gay.

They danced, and danced right merrily,

In the verdant vale, round the linden-tree.

A youthful stranger, proudly arrayed,

Soon bent his steps to the fairest maid.

To the jocund dance the maid he led,

A sea-green wreath he placed on her head.

“Fair youth, O, wherefore so cold thy arm?”

In the depths of the Neckar it is not warm.

“Fair youth, O, why is thy hand so white?”

The wave is ne’er pierced by the sun’s bright light.

With the maiden he dances far from the tree,

“O youth, let me go, my mother hails me!”

He danced with her to the Neckar’s shore,

She trembling cried, “O youth, no more!”

He slung his arms round the maid, and cried,

“Fair maiden, thou art the water-sprite’s bride!”

He danced with her down into the wave,

“O, save me, dear father,—O mother, save!”

To a crystal hall he conducted the maid,

“Farewell, ye sisters in the green glade!”