Verse > Anthologies > Margarete Münsterberg, ed., trans. > A Harvest of German Verse
Margarete Münsterberg, ed., trans.  A Harvest of German Verse.  1916.
The Postillion
By Nikolaus Lenau (Pseud. for Nikolaus Niembsch Edler von Strehlenau) (1802–1850)
LOVELY was the night in May,
Silver clouds were sailing
High above the spring array,
Through the heavens trailing.
Field and forest lay and slept,        5
Every path was lonely;
On the streets the watch was kept
By the moonshine only.
But the breeze was whispering,
Ever mildly sweeping,        10
Where the children of the spring
All lay calmly sleeping.
Gently crept the little brook;
Dreams of flowers blooming
Spread through every quiet nook,        15
Joyously perfuming.
My postillion was more rough,
Snapped his horse-whip loudly;
Over valley, hill and bluff
Blew his bugle proudly.        20
Hoofs of nimble horses four
Beat in sprightly measure,
Through the forest evermore
Trotting on with pleasure.
Wood and field were sweeping past,        25
Scarcely seen—then banished;
Like the flight of dreams, so fast
Peaceful hamlets vanished!
Girded round by joys of spring
Lay a graveyard yonder,        30
Wanderers admonishing
There to halt and ponder.
Gray against the mountainside,
Ancient walls were leaning;
Sadly stood the Crucified        35
High, in silent meaning.
On my rider’s spirits gay
Sadness fell, subduing,
And he made the horses stay;
Spoke, the Cross there viewing:        40
“Horse and wheel must stop right here,
Though it may be trying:
Yonder is my comrade dear
In the cool earth lying.
“’Twas a fellow good and true—        45
Sir, it is a pity!
No one like my comrade blew
On the horn a ditty.
“Here I always stop and blow
Songs dear to the other        50
Lying in the earth below—
Greetings from a brother!”
To the churchyard songs of cheer
He sent gaily swelling;
These should reach the brother’s ear        55
In his peaceful dwelling.
Far the bugle’s voice was borne,
From the mountains ringing,
And the dead postillion’s horn
Seemed to join the singing.        60
On we rode with slackened rein,
Through the landscape bounding;
Long the echo’s glad refrain
In my ears was sounding.

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