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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From ‘The Golden Pot’
By Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann (1776–1822)
 
Translation of Thomas Carlyle

STIR not the emerald leaves of the palm-trees in soft sighing and rustling, as if kissed by the breath of the morning wind. Awakened from their sleep, they move, and mysteriously whisper of the wonders which from the far distance approach like tones of melodious harps! The azure rolls from the walls, and floats like airy vapor to and fro; but dazzling beams shoot through it; and whirling and dancing, as in jubilee of childlike sport, it mounts and mounts to immeasurable height, and vaults itself over the palm-trees. But brighter and brighter shoots beam on beam, till in boundless expanse opens the grove where I behold Anselmus. Here glowing hyacinths and tulips and roses lift their fair heads; and their perfumes in loveliest sound call to the happy youth: “Wander, wander among us, our beloved; for thou understandest us! Our perfume is the longing of love; we love thee, and are thine for evermore!” The golden rays burn in glowing tones: “We are fire, kindled by love. Perfume is longing; but fire is desire; and dwell we not in thy bosom? We are thy own!” The dark bushes, the high trees, rustle and sound: “Come to us, thou loved, thou happy one! Fire is desire; but hope is our cool shadow. Lovingly we rustle round thy head; for thou understandest us, because love dwells in thy breast!” The brooks and fountains murmur and patter: “Loved one, walk not so quickly by; look into our crystal! Thy image dwells in us, which we preserve with love, for thou hast understood us.” In the triumphal choir, bright birds are singing: “Hear us! Hear us! We are joy, we are delight, the rapture of love!” But anxiously Anselmus turns his eyes to the glorious temple which rises behind him in the distance. The fair pillars seem trees, and the capitals and friezes acanthus leaves, which in wondrous wreaths and figures form splendid decorations. Anselmus walks to the temple; he views with inward delight the variegated marble, the steps with their strange veins of moss. “Ah, no!” cries he, as if in the excess of rapture, “she is not far from me now; she is near!” Then advances Serpentina, in the fullness of beauty and grace, from the temple; she bears the golden pot, from which a bright lily has sprung. The nameless rapture of infinite longing glows in her meek eyes; she looks at Anselmus and says, “Ah! dearest, the lily has sent forth her bowl; what we longed for is fulfilled. Is there a happiness to equal ours?” Anselmus clasps her with the tenderness of warmest ardor; the lily burns in flaming beams over his head. And louder move the trees and bushes; clearer and gladder play the brooks; the birds, the shining insects dance in the waves of perfume; a gay, bright, rejoicing tumult, in the air, in the water, in the earth, is holding the festival of love! Now rush sparkling streaks, gleaming over all the bushes; diamonds look from the ground like shining eyes; strange vapors are wafted hither on sounding wings; they are the spirits of the elements, who do homage to the lily, and proclaim the happiness of Anselmus. Then Anselmus raises his head, as if encircled with a beamy glory. Is it looks? Is it words? Is it song? You hear the sound: “Serpentina! Belief in thee, love of thee has unfolded to my soul the inmost spirit of nature! Thou hast brought me the lily, which sprung from gold, from the primeval force of the world, before Phosphorus had kindled the spark of thought; this lily is knowledge of the sacred harmony of all beings; and in this do I live in highest blessedness for evermore. Yes, I, thrice happy, have perceived what was highest; I must indeed love thee forever, O Serpentina! Never shall the golden blossoms of the lily grow pale; for, like belief and love, this knowledge is eternal.”  1
 
 
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