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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)

The Song of Songs

From “Latest Poems”

FAIR woman’s body is a song

Inscribed by our great Maker

In Nature’s mighty album erst,

When moved to life to wake her.

Ah, yes, propitious was the hour

When thus He show’d compassion!

The coy, rebellious stuff he worked

In true artistic fashion.

Yes, woman’s body is, ’mongst songs,

The song most sweet and tender,

And wondrous strophès are her limbs,

So snowy-white and slender.

And then her neck, her glistening neck—

Oh, what a godlike notion!—

Where the main thought, her little head,

Rocks with a graceful motion.

Like polished epigrams one loves

Her bosom’s rosebuds dearly;

Enchanting the cæsura is

That parts her breasts severely.

The song has flesh, ribs, hands, and feet—

No abstract poem this is!

With lips that rime deliciously,

It smiles and sweetly kisses.

True poetry is breathing here;

Grace shines in each direction;

The song upon its forehead bears

The stamp of all perfection.

I’ll praise thee, Lord, and in the dust

Will humbly kneel to show it;

Bunglers are we compared with Thee,

Thou glorious heavenly Poet.

Before the splendor of Thy song

I’ll bow in adoration,

And to its study day and night

Pay closest application.

Yes, day and night I’ll study it,

No loss of time admitting;

So shall I soon with overwork

Be thinner than befitting.