The Pilgrimage to Kevlaar

Text by Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)

franšais - deutsch

Translated by Joseph Massaad 

Translated by Leon Malinofsky


At the window stood the mother,
The son laid in bed.
"Wouldn’t you stand up, William
To see the procession, instead? "

"I am so ill, o mother,
I can’t see nor hear anything:
I think about the late Gretchen,
And my heart is aching."

"Stand up, we are going to Kevlaar,
Take the Book and the rosary;
The Mother of God will heal you,
And your sick heart, entirely. "

The church banners flutter,
Church singing is in the air:
We are in Cologne upon Rhine
And the procession goes there.

The mother follows the crowd,
And led by her, so does he,
They both sing in choir:
Praise is to you, Mary!


The Mother of God in Kevlaar
Wears her best dress, today;
Today she has plenty to do,
Many sick people are on their way.

The sick people when they come
Offer her, as they greet,
Formed with members of wax,
Many waxen hands and feet.

And those who offer a waxen hand,
See the wounds in their hand heal;
And to those who offer a waxen foot,
The foot is blessed with a similar deal.

Many have come to Kevlaar on crutches,
And now can dance on a rope,
And many now can play the viola,
For whose fingers there was no hope.

The mother took a candle of wax,
And shaped it into a heart.
"Take this to the Mother of God,
She’ll heal your pain with her art."

The son took the waxen heart,
To the holy picture with a sigh:
His heart spoke as follows,
While a tear gusted from his eye:

"You, very highly blessed,
You immaculate maiden of the Lord
I complain to you about my pain,
O you, queen of the world!

In the city of Cologne,
I lived with my mother,
The city whose chapels and churches
Outnumber many other.

And near me lived Gretchen
Who now rests underground –
Mary, I bring you a waxen heart,
I beg you to heal my wound.

Please heal my sick heart,
And I vow to you constantly,
To sing and pray with fervor,
Praise is to you, Mary!"


The sick son and his mother,
Were in the small room and slept,
Thereupon came the mother of God
And faintly in the room she crept.

She leaned over the sick boy,
And posed faintly for a while
Her hand over his sick heart,
And then vanished with a smile.

The mother sees it all in dream,
And there is more on her mind;
She awakens from her sleep,
The dogs bark so loud outside.

There laid, wholly stretched
The son and he was dead:
And on his pale cheeks,
The dawn’s reflection was red.

The mother joins her hands,
She didn’t know how she would be;
With devotion she lowly sang:
Praise be to you, Mary


At windowside the mother;
In bed her ailing son.
"Will you not rise up, William,
And see the procession?"

"I am so ill, oh Mother,
That I can't hear or see;
I think of poor dead Gretchen,
And so my heart hurts me."

"Stand up, we'll go to Kevlaar,
With Book and wreath of rose;
And God's beloved mother
Will grant your heart repose."

Their church flags are aflutter,
They sing in sacred tone;
It is to Koellen in Rhineland
Where goes the procession.

The mother and her son,
Observe the company,
They both sing out in chorus:
"Praise be to you, Marie!"


God's mother wears to Kevlaar
Today her finest clothes;
And she will heal so many,
Where the procession goes.

The suffering people bring her
Their tributes when they meet,
Limbs made out of candles,
And waxen hands and feet.

And who shall bring a wax-hand,
For him, the hand's wound heals;
And he who brings a wax-foot,
For him, the foot new feels.

To Kevlaar went many on crutches,
Who now could dance on a rail,
And some now play the viola
Whose fingers at one time would fail.

The mother took a candle,
And built from it a heart.
"Bear this to Mother Mary,
Be healed by her blessed art."

He sighed as he took up the wax-heart,
His tears welled up in his eyes;
He went to Marie's sacred picture,
And from his heart he cries:

"You kind and blessed Mother
So pure and so clement
You queen of all of Heaven,
Oh hear my sad lament!

I live here with my mother
At Koellen in the town,
We've hundreds here of chapels
And churches up and down.

And near us lived my Gretchen,
But death has made us part
Marie, take my waxen tribute,
And heal my aching heart.

Heal thou my heart so sickened
And day and night for thee
I'll sing with true devotion
"Praise be to you, Marie!"


The sick son and the mother,
Each slept in a little bed;
And Mother Mary came in
With lightest step and tread.

She leaned above the sick son,
And laid her hand then, too
So softly on his sick heart,
Laughed gently, and withdrew.

The mother sees all in a dream,
And then she sees still more;
She awakened from her slumber
The dogs bayed so loud at the door.

There lay stretched out before her
Her son, and he was dead;
Full on his pale white features
Shone morning's light so red.

The mother folded her hands then,
Her course, she couldn't see;
Devotedly she sang low:
"Praise be to you, Marie!"