’Twas late at eve . . . the first of May,
A night in May . . . ’twas time for love.
A love song sang the turtle dove,
Where scented pine groves stretched away.
The tranquil moss sighed love’s lament;
Love’s sorrow shammed the blooming tree,
A nightingale sang love’s melody,
While a rose replied with love’s sweet scent.
The lake, hid where the thicket reared,
Expressed its grief in a muffled sound,
Where banks entwined it all around;
The suns of other worlds appeared
And strayed across the azure spheres,

Gleaming above like love’s bright tears.
Whole worlds of them appeared at length
Upon the skies—love’s timeless seat.
Then, changed to fading ‘stars, whose strength,
Was spent by love’s o’er sweet extent,
They met, as roaming lovers meet.


The gaoler cautiously bends near,
Close to the captive’s lips, his ear,
And as a breeze lulls o’er the dale
The captive whispers on his tale.
Nearer and nearer the gaoler dips,
Closer and closer to the captive’s lips,
Till lips and ear blend into one.
Each whispered sound now softly drips,
Then all is hushed–as if asleep.
The gaoler stands–moves not–undone.
Large tears beneath his eyelids run
And eyes and heart with sorrow weep.
Long stands he, helpless to decide,
Till as a beast prepared to leap,
He leaves the cell with one long stride.
Long as he lived–his lips kept sealed
The secret he had heard revealed,
And ne’er again he wore with grace
A smile upon his furrowed face.


The gaoler gone—the shadow’d spell
Fills once again the prison cell.
Through night profound—the drops of slime
Again, in falling, measure time.

There where the bleak stone table stands,
The captive kneels—leans on his hands,
His haggard face—a frightful sight.
Motionless eyes that now appear
Fixed on some boundless, timeless sphere.
Tears, sweat and blood on cheeks alight,
And endlessly the drops of slime
Slowly, in falling, measure time.
The sound of drops, the winds of night,
Foretell the unrelenting doom
Of him, whose failing reason fled.
From far an owl hoots in dread,
At midnight, when the church-bells boom.

His youth was swept away by time’s relentless rage.
Far away fled its dream, dead as a lifeless shade,
Reflections of cities white, that in the waters bathe.
Just as the final thought of men who died before,
Just as their very names, as wars of ancient hordes,
Just as the northern light, whose dead flame shines no more,
Tones of an age-warped harp, sounds of its shattered chords,
Events of by-gone days, the light of a lifeless star,
Feelings of one you loved, a wanderer’s path so far,
A grave long since forgot, eternities’ old scar,
A smold'ring fire’s smoke, sounds of metallic chimes,
These are the echoed dreams of the man’s childhood times.

Within the cool dale’s darkened lap,
Where aged oak trees form a gap,
A grieving chorus sits around;
All wrapped within their cloaks of white.
They are the comrades of the night.
Each gazes ahead at the dark, still ground.
Without words and without motion
As if fear’s relentless ocean
Changed them into lifeless molds.
As an evening song unfolds,
Softly whispering, softly sighing
Thus the circle trembles gravely,
With an endless whisper crying:
“Our mighty chieftain, perished.”

As a wind that howls and bounds,
O'er the rigid circle sounds,
“Our mighty chieftain perished.”

As the whispering of the trees
Beneath the mount, where echoes moan,
Thus resounded on the breeze
In an unchanged monotone:
“Our mighty chieftain perished.”

Distant forests faintly shivered,
And lamenting voices quivered.
“Our beloved Master perished.”

 This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.


This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was legally published within the United States (or the United Nations Headquarters in New York subject to Section 7 of the United States Headquarters Agreement) between 1928 and 1977 (inclusive) without a copyright notice.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1987, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 35 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.