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A poem by Heinrich Heine

An Apparition In The Sea

Title:     An Apparition In The Sea
Author: Heinrich Heine [More Titles by Heine]

I however lay on the edge of the vessel,
And gazed with dreamy eyes
Down into the glass-clear water.
And gazed deeper and deeper,
Deep down into the bottom of the sea.
At first like a twilight mist,
Then gradually more distinctly colored,
Domes of churches and towers arose,
And at last, as clear as sunshine, a whole city,
An antique Netherland city,
Enlivened with people.
Grave men with black mantles,
And white ruffs, and chains of honor,
And long swords and long faces,
Strode over the swarming market-place,
Towards the court-house with its high steps,
Where the stone effigies of emperors
Kept guard with scepter and sword.
Near by, past long rows of houses,
Past casements like polished mirrors,
And pyramidal, clipped lindens,
Wandered, in rustling silks, the young maidens,
With slender forms, and flower-faces
Decently encircled by their black hoods,
And their waving golden hair.
Motley-clad folk in Spanish garb
Strut past and salute each other.
Elderly dames
In brown, old-fashioned attire,
Missal and rosary in hand,
Hasten with tripping steps
Towards the great cathedral,
Drawn thither by the chiming bells,
And by the deep-voiced tones of the organ.

And the far-off chimes smite me also
With mysterious awe.
Insatiable yearning, profound sadness
Steal into my heart,
Into my scarcely-healed heart.
I feel as if its wounds
Were kissed open by beloved lips,
And began to bleed afresh,
With hot, red drops,
That fall long and slowly,
On an old house below there,
In the deep city of the sea;--
On an old high-gabled house,
Sadly deserted by all living creatures,
Save that in the lower window,
Sits a maiden,
Her head resting on her arms,
Like a poor, forsaken child,
And I know thee, thou poor forsaken child.
Deep down, deep as the sea,
Thou hiddest thyself from me,
In a childish freak,
And never couldst rise again.

And thou sat'st a stranger among strangers,
Through long ages,
Whilst I, my soul full of grief,--
I sought thee over the whole earth.
Forever I sought thee,
Thou ever-beloved,
Thou long-lost,
Thou found at last!
I have found thee, and I see once more
Thy sweet face,
The wise, loyal eyes,
The darling smile,
And never again will I leave thee,
And I come down to thee now,
And with wide-stretched arms,
I leap down upon thy breast.

But just at the right moment
The captain seized me by the foot,
And drew me from the edge of the vessel,
And cried with a peevish laugh,
"Doctor, are you possessed by the devil?"

[The end]
Heinrich Heine's poem: Apparition In The Sea