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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
By Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)
Translation of Charles Harvey Genung

IT was a cold winter evening, with keen north wind and blinding snow. I was alone in the room with Marie; it was cozy in the dim light, and the open fire crackled and whispered so comfortably! She sat at the piano, and was playing an old Italian melody. Her head was bowed, and the candle that stood beside her threw a soft sweet light over the little hand; and I stood opposite her and watched the mobile hand, every little dimple of it, and the network of delicate veins, and meanwhile the music stole so tender and fervent into my heart, and I stood and dreamed a dream of unspeakable happiness. And the music grew ever more triumphant and powerful, melting away again into tones of yielding submission. I died, I lived, and died again; eternities swept by me: and when I awoke, kindly she appeared before me, standing, and begged me with a trembling voice to put on her fingers again the rings which she had laid aside to play the piano; and I did it, and pressed her hand to my lips and—“Why,” I said, “did you treat me so coldly yesterday?” and she answered, “Forgive me—I was very naughty.”  1
  What I have told thee here, dear reader, is not an event of yesterday, or the day before; it is an old, old story, and thousands of years, many thousands of years, will roll away before it reaches an end, a good end. For lo! time is without end, but the things in time have an end; they can be scattered into the smallest particles of dust, but these particles, the atoms even, have their fixed number, and fixed likewise is the number of the forms which out of them spontaneously body themselves forth; and no matter how long it takes, according to the eternal laws of combination in this play of eternal repetition, all forms which have been upon this earth must again appear, must again attract, repel, kiss, and ruin, afterwards as before.  2
  And it will one day come to pass that again a man will be born quite like me, and a woman be born quite like Marie,—only I hope the man’s head may contain somewhat less foolishness than mine now, and the woman’s heart somewhat more love than Marie’s; and in a better land these two shall meet and regard each other long, and at last the woman, reaching out her hand, will say in a soft voice, “Forgive me—I was very naughty.”  3

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