Germany. A Winter’s Tale

Text by Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)
translated into English by Joseph Massaad

Caput 1

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Departure | I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX | X | XI | XII | XIII | XIV | XV

It was in the dreary month of November,
The gloomy days grew shorter,
The wind tore the foliage off the trees,
As I approached the German border.

And as I reached the border line,
I felt a mightier throb
Within my chest, I even think,
I nearly began to sob.

And as I heard the German language,
I had the strangest feeling:
It was no less that if my heart
Began pleasantly bleeding.

A little maiden sang to the harp;
She sang with genuine feeling,
But out of tune, and yet,
I found her play most appealing.

She sang of love and its woes,
Of sacrifice and meeting again,
High above, in a better world,
Void of suffering, void of pain.

She sang of this earthly vale of tears,
Of joys that so soon run dry,
How the soul will feast in eternal bliss,
Transfigured in the sky.

She sang the heavenly lullaby,
The old song of abnegation,
By which the people, this giant fool,
Is lulled from its lamentation.

I know the tune, I know the words,
I also know every author;
I know they secretly drank wine,
While publicly preaching water.

A new song, a better song,
My friends will be my aim!
We should, right now on earth,
A kingdom of heaven proclaim.

We wish to be happy, here on earth,
The days of need have gone;
The idle belly must not enjoy
What toiling hands have won.

Enough bread grows here on earth,
For all mankind’s nutrition,
Roses too, myrtles, beauty and joy,
And green peas, in addition.

Yes, green peas for everyone,
As soon as they burst their pods.
To the angels and the sparrows,
We leave Heaven and its Gods.

And, if after death, we’ve grown some wings,
We’ll pay you a visit up there,
To share the holiest tarts and cakes,
Your heavenly cooks prepare.

A newer song, a better song,
It rings like fiddle and flute!
The Miserere is past and gone,
The funeral bells turned mute.

The maiden Europa is engaged
To the handsome genius ace
Of freedom; lying down, arm in arm,
They enjoy their first embrace.

The marriage is valid, though no priest
Has blessed it with holy waters.
Long live the bridegroom and his bride
And their future sons and daughters!

A nuptial song is my song,
A newer and better creation!
Within my soul, flare up the stars
Of highest consecration.

Inspired stars! They wildly glow,
In torrents of fire they spill;
I feel myself wondrously stronger:
I could shatter oak-trees at will!

Since treading on German soil,
In me magical fluids are flowing.
The giant has touched his mother again,
And new powers in him are growing.


Departure | I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX | X | XI | XII | XIII | XIV | XV