Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Silver Maids - Carl Spitteler

High in their belfry swinging,
The Silver Maids are singing
Their matin-psalm of praise and cheer;
No angel tones diviner,
The farther off, the finer,
Nor even fails one practiced ear.

Joined are the sister-fingers
And in the blue there lingers
A subtly-colored endless chain,
The primrose clusters wooing,
Its shadow-dance pursuing,
Now up the bank, now down again.

The larks on high are trilling,
The air of April filling,
But these, triumphant, drown the song;
The sun is listening to them,
Echo would fain outdo them,
Tries, and repeats the sound ere long.

The dusty wanderer raises
Eyes that the sunshine dazes,
Smiles, and a moment stands to rest;
But roadside brooks run quicker,
And wavelets flicker, bicker,
Bright in their eager laughing zest.

The tower gives warning. Frightened,
Turning with faces whitened,
They hurry homeward now apace;
Alas! the fairest, fleetest,
Of all the maids the sweetest,
Is far behind, has lost her place.

Finger in mouth she hovers,
Flutters and fails, recovers -
"I'll catch them up, I must, I will!"
Her dove-wings bravely spreading,
Now for the belfry heading,
She slips inside, and all is still.

So loud the silence - hear it!
The zephyr circles near it,
And lurks awhile the tower beside,
To see if skirts or laces,
Or any sort of traces,
Of Silver Maids may yet be spied.

Carl Spitteler (1845 — 1924) Switzerland
Translated by Ethel Colburn Mayne

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