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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Voices from the Tomb

By Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)

From ‘Dream Pictures’: Translation of Charles Godfrey Leland

I WENT to the house of my lady fair,

I wandered in madness and dark despair;

And as by the church-yard I went my way,

Sadly the gravestones signed me to stay.

The minstrel’s tombstone made me a sign,

In the glimmering light of the pale moon’s shine:

“Good brother, I’m coming,”—wild whispering flows;

Pale as a cloud from the grave it rose.

’Twas the harper himself: from the grave he flits;

High on the tombstone the harper sits;

O’er the strings of the cithern his fingers sweep,

And he sings, in a voice right harsh and deep:—

“What! know ye yet that song of old,

Which through the heart once deeply rolled,

Ye strings now slow to move?

The angels call it heaven’s joy,

The devils call it hell’s annoy,

But mortals call it—love!”

Scarce had sounded the last word’s tone,

Ere the graves were opened, every one,

And airy figures came pressing out,

And sweep round the minstrel, while shrill they shout:—

“Love, Love, it was thy might

Laid us in these beds with right,

Closed our eyelids from the light:

Wherefore call’st thou in the night?”