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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Before the Storm
By Richard Dehmel (1863–1920)
 
Translation of Ludwig Lewisohn

THE SKY grew darker with each minute
Outside my room, I felt within it
The clouds, disconsolate and gray.
The ash-tree yonder moved its crown
With heavy creaking up and down,        5
The dead leaves whirled across the way.
 
Then ticked, through the close room, unhurried,
(As in still vaults where men are buried
The woodworm gnaws and ticks), my watch.
And through the open door close by        10
Wailed the piano, thin and shy,
Beneath her touch.
 
Slate-like upon us weighed the heaven,
Her playing grew more sorrow-riven,
I saw her form.        15
Sharp gusts upon the ash-tree beat,
The air, aflame with dust and heat,
Sighed for the storm.
 
Pale through the walls the sounds came sobbing,
Her blind, tear-wasted hands passed throbbing        20
Across the keys.
Crouching she sang that song of May
That once had sung my heart away,
She panted lest the song should cease.
 
In the dull clouds no shadow shivered,        25
The aching music moaned and quivered
Like dull knives in me, stroke on stroke—
And in that song of love was blent
Two children’s voices’ loud lament—
Then first the lightning broke.        30
 
 
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