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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Nature More than Science
By Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866)
 
Translation of James Clarence Mangan

        I HAVE a thousand thousand lays,
          Compact of myriad myriad words,
        And so can sing a million ways,
            Can play at pleasure on the chords
            Of tunèd harp or heart;        5
            Yet is there one sweet song
        For which in vain I pine and long;
I cannot reach that song, with all my minstrel art.
 
        A shepherd sits within a dell,
          O’er-canopied from rain and heat;        10
        A shallow but pellucid well
            Doth bubble at his feet.
            His pipe is but a leaf,
            Yet there, above that stream,
        He plays and plays, as in a dream,        15
One air that steals away the senses like a thief.
 
        A simple air it seems, in truth,
          And who begins will end it soon;
        Yet when that hidden shepherd-youth
          So pours it in the ear of Noon,        20
            Tears flow from those anear.
            All songs of yours and mine
        Condensed in one were less divine
Than that sweet air to sing, that sweet, sweet air to hear!
 
        ’Twas yesternoon he played it last;        25
          The hummings of a hundred bees
        Were in mine ears, yet as I passed
          I heard him through the myrtle-trees.
            Stretched all along he lay,
            ’Mid foliage half decayed;        30
        His lambs were feeding while he played,
And sleepily wore on the stilly summer day.
 
 
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