1. Hail to the Sea! -

1. Hail to the Sea!

T HALATTA ! Thalatta!
Oh, let me hail thee, eternal sea!
Oh, let me hail thee ten thousand times
From spirit exulting,
As once thou wast hailed by
Ten thousand hearts of Hellas
Struggling with misery, yearning for home delights,
World-renowned hearts of Hellas.
The billows were heaving,
Were heaving and roaring;
And freely the sun poured upon them
Its radiance of rose and of opal;
Startled, the flocks of sea swallows
Fluttered afar, loud-screaming;
The war steeds were stamping, the bucklers were clanging,
And a cry like the shouting of conquerors arose:
Thalatta! Thalatta!
Oh, let me hail thee, eternal sea!
The speech of my country I hear in thy waters;
Like dreams of my childhood once more I see sparkling
The surging realm of thy waves;
And memory tells me once more the old story
Of all the exquisite toys thou dost cherish,
Of all the bright dazzling gifts of Christmas,
Of all the scarlet branches of coral,
Gold-fishes, pearls, and many-hued shells,
Which thou secretly hoardest
In thy deep, transparent crystal house.
Ah, in strange lands how I languished in desolation!
Like a poor faded flower
Enclosed in the zinc of a botanist's vasculum,
My heart lay dead in my breast.
I feel like one who through long months of winter
Has waited hopeless in the dark sick-chamber,
And who against hope once more issues forth.
For, dazzling there shines forth to meet me
Spring, decked with emeralds, roused by the sunbeams,
Whilst snow ÔÇô white the blossoming fruit ÔÇô trees whisper,
And newly-born flowers gaze on me
With eyes of colour and perfume,
And all things are scent and music, soft breath and laughter,
And the birds sing aloud in the blue of the heavens,
Thalatta! Thalatta!

O heart retreating, yet undaunted!
How oft, how oft, to thy cost
Did barbarian maids of the North Land press on thee!
From large and victorious eyes
They shot forth flame-bearing arrows;
With harsh words, curved like scimitars,
They threatened to tear my breast asunder;
They beat on my poor bemused brain
With dainty small cuneiform notes.
In vain I upheld my shield against them;
The darts came hissing, the blows crashed cleaving,
And the barbarian maids of the North Land
Pressed me slow to the sea,
The well-loved, rescuing sea,
Thalatta! Thalatta!
Author of original: 
Heinrich Heine
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