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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Two Muses
By Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724–1803)
 
Translation of Charles Timothy Brooks

I SAW—Oh, tell me, saw I what now takes place?
Beheld I the future?—I saw the muse of Germany,
Side by side with her of Britain,
Fly with hot speed to the goals of coronation.
 
Two goals, dimly gleaming, far as the eye could reach,        5
Bounded the race-ground. O’er one in majesty
Oaks cast their shadows; near the other
Palm-trees were waving in evening splendors.
 
At home in contest, stepped she of Albion
Out on the arena,—proudly as when of old        10
So matched with Grecian muse and Roman,
She trod the hot sand for the prize of glory.
 
There stood the youthful, trembling combatant;
With manly emotion she trembled, and fiery
Flaming blushes, victory’s omens,        15
Streamed o’er her cheek, and her golden hair flew.
 
E’en now, with labor, fast in her heaving breast
She holds the breath down; bent on the goal she hangs;
She seems to see the herald’s trumpet
Rise to his lips,—and her drunken eye swims.        20
 
Proud of her rival, prouder of herself, then
Spake the lofty Britoness, and measured with noble mien
Thee, Thuiscona:—“Yes, by the Bards, I
Grew up with thee in the ancient oak grove.
 
“But Fame had told me thou wert not living now.        25
O Muse, forgive me, if thou immortal art,
Forgive, that now so late I learn it;
But at the goal must it yet be taught me!
 
“Lo, there it stands! But mark’st thou the crownèd one
So far beyond it? Maiden, this proud reserve—        30
This self-command—this glance of fire
Downward to earth cast—I know its meaning.
 
“Yet weigh, one moment, ere, big with danger, sounds
Yon herald’s trumpet! Was it not I who once
Measured the ground with her of Thermopylæ,        35
And with the famed of the seven hills too?”
 
She spake. The herald drew nearer, and with him came
Swift the decisive moment.—“I love thee!”
With flaming look quick spake Teutona:—
“Britoness, yea, I do wildly love thee;        40
 
“Yet more, far more—I love immortality
And yonder palms! Then touch, if thy genius
So wills it, touch them first; yet the moment
When thou shalt seize it, the crown is mine too.
 
“And, oh, how I tremble! O ye immortals,        45
Haply I may reach the proud goal before thee.
Then, oh, then may I feel thy hot breath
Stir my loose locks as thou pantest after.”
 
The trumpet rang. They flew as on eagles’ wings.
Far along the race-ground boiled up the clouds of dust.        50
I looked: beyond the oak yet thicker
Rolled the dark mass, and my eye had lost them.
 
 
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