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Melancholy -- To Laura

Friedrich Schiller 1759 (Marbach am Neckar) – 1805 (Weimar)

Laura! a sunrise seems to break
 Where'er thy happy looks may glow.
Joy sheds its roses o'er thy cheek,
Thy tears themselves do but bespeak
 The rapture whence they flow;
Blest youth to whom those tears are given--
The tears that change his earth to heaven;
His best reward those melting eyes--
For him new suns are in the skies!

Thy soul--a crystal river passing,
Silver-clear, and sunbeam-glassing,
Mays into bloom sad Autumn by thee;
Night and desert, if they spy thee,
To gardens laugh--with daylight shine,
Lit by those happy smiles of thine!
Dark with cloud the future far
Goldens itself beneath thy star.
Smilest thou to see the harmony
 Of charm the laws of Nature keep?
Alas! to me the harmony
 Brings only cause to weep!

Holds not Hades its domain
 Underneath this earth of ours?
Under palace, under fame,
 Underneath the cloud-capped towers?
Stately cities soar and spread
O'er your mouldering bones, ye dead!
From corruption, from decay,
 Springs yon clove-pink's fragrant bloom;
Yon gay waters wind their way
 From the hollows of a tomb.

From the planets thou mayest know
All the change that shifts below,
Fled--beneath that zone of rays,
Fled to night a thousand Mays;
Thrones a thousand--rising--sinking,
Earth from thousand slaughters drinking
Blood profusely poured as water;--
Of the sceptre--of the slaughter--
Wouldst thou know what trace remaineth?
Seek them where the dark king reigneth!

Scarce thine eye can ope and close
Ere life's dying sunset glows;
Sinking sudden from its pride
Into death--the Lethe tide.
Ask'st thou whence thy beauties rise?
Boastest thou those radiant eyes?--
Or that cheek in roses dyed?
All their beauty (thought of sorrow!)
From the brittle mould they borrow.
Heavy interest in the tomb
For the brief loan of the bloom,
For the beauty of the day,
Death the usurer, thou must pay,
 In the long to-morrow!

Maiden!--Death's too strong for scorn;
 In the cheek the fairest, He
 But the fairest throne doth see
Though the roses of the morn
Weave the veil by beauty worn--
Aye, beneath that broidered curtain,
Stands the Archer stern and certain!
Maid--thy Visionary hear--
Trust the wild one as the sear,
When he tells thee that thine eye,
 While it beckons to the wooer,
Only lureth yet more nigh
 Death, the dark undoer!

Every ray shed from thy beauty
 Wastes the life-lamp while it beams,
And the pulse's playful duty,
 And the blue veins' merry streams,
Sport and run into the pall--
Creatures of the Tyrant, all!
As the wind the rainbow shatters,
Death thy bright smiles rends and scatters,
Smile and rainbow leave no traces;--
From the spring-time's laughing graces,
From all life, as from its germ,
Grows the revel of the worm!

Woe, I see the wild wind wreak
 Its wrath upon thy rosy bloom,
Winter plough thy rounded cheek,
 Cloud and darkness close in gloom;
Blackening over, and forever,
Youth's serene and silver river!
Love alike and beauty o'er,
Lovely and beloved no more!

Maiden, an oak that soars on high,
 And scorns the whirlwind's breath
Behold thy Poet's youth defy
 The blunted dart of Death!
His gaze as ardent as the light
 That shoots athwart the heaven,
His soul yet fiercer than the light
 In the eternal heaven,
Of Him, in whom as in an ocean-surge
Creation ebbs and flows--and worlds arise and merge!
Through Nature steers the poet's thought to find
No fear but this--one barrier to the mind?

And dost thou glory so to think?
 And heaves thy bosom?--Woe!
This cup, which lures him to the brink,
As if divinity to drink--
 Has poison in its flow!
Wretched, oh, wretched, they who trust
To strike the God-spark from the dust!
The mightiest tone the music knows,
 But breaks the harp-string with the sound;
And genius, still the more it glows,
But wastes the lamp whose life bestows
 The light it sheds around.
Soon from existence dragged away,
The watchful jailer grasps his prey:
Vowed on the altar of the abused fire,
The spirits I raised against myself conspire!
Let--yes, I feel it two short springs away
 Pass on their rapid flight;
And life's faint spark shall, fleeting from the clay,
 Merge in the Fount of Light!

And weep'st thou, Laura?--be thy tears forbid;
Would'st thou my lot, life's dreariest years amid,
 Protract and doom?--No: sinner, dry thy tears:
Would'st thou, whose eyes beheld the eagle wing
Of my bold youth through air's do
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:50 min read

Friedrich Schiller

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German poet philosopher historian and playwright During the last seventeen years of his life Schiller struck up a productive if complicated friendship with already famous and influential Johann Wolfgang Goethe with whom he frequently discussed issues concerning aesthetics and encouraged Goethe to finish works he left merely as sketches this relationship and these discussions led to a period now referred to as Weimar Classicism They also worked together on Die Xenien The Xenies a collection of short but harshly satirical poems in which both Schiller and Goethe verbally attacked those persons they perceived to be enemies of their aesthetic agenda. more…

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