Down the merry streamlet dancing,
Through the flickering shadows glancing,
Foam about her white feet creaming,
All her wayward hair out-streaming,
Laughing on the laughing water,
Dances down the elf-king's daughter —
Youngest daughter fair.
All the trees bend low toward her,
All the rocks are strong to guard her,
All the little grasses whisper,
And the low-toned breezes lisp her
All around the warm air lingers
Lovingly, the while her fingers,
With a dainty upward gesture,
Seem to draw a shade for vesture
Of her loveliness.
Yet meseems she moves so purely,
Gliding on her path demurely,
Looking with clear eyes serenely,
She were clad' not half so queenly
In a royal dress.
Now she's lightly onward sweeping, —
Now she stays half-glad, half-fearing,
O'er the ledge of granite peering,
Eyes the headlong torrent leaping —
Eyes far down the sullen boulders,
While the long locks round her shoulders
Now with little laugh a-tremble,
Glad her shrinking to dissemble,
Flashing through the diamond shower
With her white feet launched below her,
And her hair drawn out above her,
Swift as lady to her lover
Down the fall goes she.
Now when quiet night has clouded
All the river broad and stately,
Down the stream she rides sedately,
By her soft hair warmly shrouded,
Lulled by melody.
Down amid the dim trees greeting,
And the drowsy wheat's repeating,
Dreaming on the dreaming water
Floats the elf-king's youngest daughter
To the dreaming sea.