Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Germany
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Germany: Vols. XVII–XVIII.  1876–79.
The Postilion
Nikolaus Lenau (1802–1850)
Translated by C. T. Brooks

LOVELY was the night of May,
  Clouds of silvery whiteness
O’er the blooming spring away
  Sailed in fleecy lightness.
Meadow, grove, and mountain’s brow        5
  Silent rest were taking;
No one but the moonshine now
  On the roads was waking.
Glare and din of day had fled,
  Ceased each warbler’s numbers,—        10
Spring her fairy children led
  Through the realm of slumbers.
Whispering breeze and brooklet crept
  Slow with silent paces,
Fragrant dreams of flowers that slept        15
  Filled the shadowy spaces.
But my rough postilion now
  Cracked his whip, and, flying,
Left the vale and mountain’s brow
  To his horn replying.        20
O’er the hill, across the plain,
  Loud the hoofs resounded,
As through all the bright domain
  On the good steeds bounded.
Wood and mead, as on we sped,        25
  Flew with scarce a greeting;
Town and country by us fled,
  Like a dream still fleeting.
In the lovely May-moonlight
  Lay a churchyard nested,        30
And the traveller’s roaming sight
  Solemnly arrested.
On the mountain-side the wall
  Seemed with age reclining,
And, above, a sad and tall        35
  Crucifix was shining.
Driver, at a slower pace,
  Up the road advances,
Stops, and toward the burial-place
  Reverently glances:        40
“Horse and wheel must tarry here,—
  Sir, ’t is not for danger,—
But there lies one sleeping near
  Was to me no stranger!
“’T was a lad most rare and true,—        45
  Ah, the sorrow ponder!
None so clear the post-horn blew
  As my comrade yonder!
“Always must I linger here,
  And, with mournful pleasure,        50
To the dead one’s waiting ear
  Blow his favorite measure!”
Toward the churchyard now he blew
  Such entrancing numbers,
Well might pierce the dull ground through,        55
  Stir the dead man’s slumbers.
And a blast upon the air
  From the heights came flying,—
Was the dead postilion there
  To his songs replying?        60
On, again, and faster still,
  On the good steeds bounded,—
Long that echo from the hill
  In my ear resounded.

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