10. A Sea-Ghost -

10. A Sea-Ghost.
But I lay on the side of the vessel,
And was gazing — with half-dreaming eyeballs —
Down into the mirror-like water;
And kept gazing deeper and deeper —
Till far in the depths of the Ocean,
At first like a darkening fog-mist,
But slowly, with colours distincter,
Domes of churches and towers took substance,
And at last, sunny-bright, a whole city
An old-world, Netherlands-city,
Crowded with people —

Sober-eyed men, clothed in black mantles,
With starched white ruffs, and with chains of office,
With their long swords, and with their long faces,
Are striding through the great square and its bustle,
To the courthouse up the high staircase,
Where great stone statues of Kaisers
Keep watch with their sceptres and swords.
Near by — before long rows of houses,
With windows shining like mirrors,
And lime-trees cropped into cone-shapes,
Walk young maidens in rustling silk dresses —
Slender girls with their fresh, rosy faces
Modestly framed in quiet, black mobcaps,
Their golden hair bursting from under;
While gay cavaliers, attired Spanish-fashion,
Are strutting before them, and bowing
Dames of advanced age,
In dark dresses long out of fashion,
With prayer-book and rosary in hand,
Are hastening with tripping steps
Towards the mighty Cathedral,
Urged on by the chime of the bells
And the pealing tone of the organ.
Myself, I am seized with great horror,
Sprung from that distant clang:
And endless longing, profoundest pity
Streams into my heart —
My heart which is yet scarce healed —
I feel as though all its wounds
Had been kissed by my dear one's lips.
And so set bleeding again —
Bleeding hot, red, blood-drops —
And that these long and slowly trickle
On an old house there below
In the city down in the Ocean —
On an old high-gabled house,
Which lies desolate, void of all dwellers,
Except that at one lower window
There sits a maiden,
With her head bent down on her arm,
Like a poor and forgotten child —
" Ah! well I know thee, poor, forgotten child!
In such depths, as deep as Ocean,
Thou hidst thyself from me,
Only in childish temper,
But could'st no more emerge:
And there thou sat'st a stranger 'mid strange people,
Whole centuries it seemed.
While I, with my soul full of pain,
Was seeking thee, the wide world over,
And always seeking but thee,
Thou ever-beloved —
Long lost,
But found in the end.
Yes, I have found thee; again can I gaze on
Thy fair, sweet face,
Thy wise, true eyes,
Thy dearly-loved smile —
And ne'er will I lose thee again.
I will come down in the deep to thee,
And with arms far-extended
I will rush to thy heart. "
But just in the nick of time
The captain caught me by the leg,
And dragged me away from the gunwale,
And cried with an angry laugh,
" Why, Doctor, the devil is in you! "
Author of original: 
Heinrich Heine
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