Translation From Heine: Die Nordsee by George MacDonald




[Footnote: I have here used rimes although the original has none. With notions of translating severer now than when, many years ago, I attempted this poem, I should not now take such a liberty. In a few other points also the translation is not quite close enough to please me; but it must stand.]

High in heaven the sun was glowing,
White cloud-waves were round him flowing;
The sea was still and grey.
Thinking in dreams, by the helm I lay:
Half waking, half in slumber, then
Saw I Christ, the Saviour of men.
In undulating garments white
He walked in giant shape and height
Over land and sea.
High in the heaven up towered his head;
His hands in blessing forth he spread
Over land and sea.
And for a heart, in his breast
He bore the sun; there did it rest.
The red, flaming heart of the Lord
Out its gracious radiance poured,
Its fair and love-caressing light
With illuminating and warming might
Over land and sea.

Sounds of solemn bells that go
Through the air to and fro,
Drew, like swans in rosy traces,
With soft, solemn, stately graces,
The gliding ship to the green shore–
Peopled, for many a century hoar,
By men who dwell at rest in a mighty
Far-spreading and high-towered city.

Oh, wonder of peace, how still was the town!
The hollow tumult had all gone down
Of the babbling and stifling trades;
And through each clean and echoing street
Walked men and women, and youths and maids,
White clothes wearing,
Palm branches bearing;
And ever and always when two did meet,
They gazed with eyes that plain did tell
They understood each other well;
And trembling, in self-renouncement and love,
Each a kiss on the other’s forehead laid,
And looked up to the Saviour’s sunheart above,
Which, in joyful atoning, its red blood rayed
Down upon all; and the people said,
From hearts with threefold gladness blest,
Lauded be Jesus Christ!

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