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TRANSLATED, OR IMITATED, FROM THE GERMAN, &c.
William and Helen.
WILLIAM AND HELEN.
DMITATED FROM THE
LENORE” OF BÜRGER.
I. From heavy dreams fair Helen rose,
And eyed the dawning red: “ Alas, my love, thou tarriest long!
O art thou false or dead ?"
II. With gallant Fredrick's princely power
He sought the bold Crusade; But not a word from Judah's wars
Told Helen how he sped.
The Author had resolved to omit the following version of a well-known Poem, in any collection which he might make of his poetical trifles. But the publishers having pleaded for its admission, the Author has consented, though not unaware of the disadvantage at which this youthful essay (for it was written in 1795) must appear with those which have been executed by much more able hands, in particular that of Mr. Taylor of Norwich, and that of Mr. Spencer.
The following Translation was written long before the Author saw any other, and originated in the following circumstances :- A lady of high rank in the literary world read this romantic tale, as translated by Mr. Taylor, in the house of the celebrated Professor Dugald Stewart of Edinburgh. The Author was not present, nor indeed in Edinburgh at the time; but a gentleman who had the pleasure of hearing the ballad, afterwards told him the story, and repeated the remarkable cho
At length a truce was made, And every knight return'd to dry
The tears his love had shed.
IV. Our gallant host was homeward bound
With many a song of joy; Green waved the laurel in each plume,
The badge of victory.
" Tramp! tramp! across the land they speede,
Splash! splash! across the sea ; Harrah! The dead can ride apace!
Dost fear to ride with me?"
V. And old and young, and sire and son,
To meet them crowd the way, With shouts, and mirth, and melody,
The debt of love to pay.
In attempting a translation, then intended only to circulate among friends, the present Author did not hesitate to make use of this impressive stanza; for which freedom he has since obtained the forgiveness of the ingenious gentleman to whom it properly belongs.
VI. Full many a maid her true-love met,
And sobb’d in his embrace, And flutt'ring joy in tears and smiles
Array'd full many a face.
1 THE CHASE and WILLIAM AND HELEN; Two Ballads, from the German of Gottfried Augnstus Bürger. Edinburgh : Printed by Mundell and Son, Royal Bank Close, for Manners and Miller, Parliament Square ; and sold by T. Cadell, jun.,,
and W. Davies, in the Strand, London. 1796. 4to.--See “Essay on Imitations of the Ancient Ballad," ante, p. 566, and Life of Scott, vol. i. chapters 7 and 8.
She sought the host in vain ;
If faithless, or if slain.
XVII. “No sacrament can quench this fire,
Or slake this scorching pain; No sacrament can bid the dead
Arise and live again.
VIII. The martial band is past and gone ;
She rends her raven hair, And in distraction's bitter mood She weeps with wild despair.
IX. "O rise, my child,” her mother said,
“Nor sorrow thus in vain; A perjured lover's fleeting heart
No tears recall again.” —
XVIII. “O break, my heart,-0 break at once!
Be thou my god, Despair ! Heaven's heaviest blow has fallen on me, And vain each fruitless prayer."—
XIX. “O enter not in judgment, Lord,
With thy frail child of clay! She knows not what her tongue has spoke; Impute it not, I pray!
XX. “Forbear, my child, this desperate roe,
And turn to God and grace; Well can devotion's heavenly glow
Convert thy bale to bliss.”—
X. “O mother, what is gone, is gone,
What's lost for ever lorn : Death, death alone can comfort me;
O had I ne'er been born!
XI. "O break, my heart, -0 break at once !
Drink my life-blood, Despair ! No joy remains on earth for me,
For me in heaven no share."
XXI. “O mother, mother, what is bliss ?
O mother, what is bale? Without my William what were heaven,
Or with him what were hell ?"
Upbraids each sacred power,
Till sun and day were o'er,
That o'er the moat was hung;
As off the rider bounded;
A rustling, stifled noise ;-
At length a whispering voice.
Why should I pray to ruthless Heaven,
Since my loved William's slain ? I only pray'd for William's sake,
And all my prayers were vain.”
XVI. “O take the sacrament, my child,
And check these tears that flow; By resignation's humble prayer,
O hallow'd be thy woe!"—
XXVII. Awake, awake, arise, my love!
How, Helen, dost thou fare? [weep'st! Wak’st thou, or sleep’st ? laugh’st thou, or
Hast thought on me, my fair ?"
As fast as fast might be;
The flashing pebbles flee.
Ere they could snatch a view,
And cot, and castle, flew.
I waked, I wept for thee:
I rode since darkness fell;
And warm thee in their fold! Chill howls through hawthorn bush the wind: My love is deadly cold.”—
XXXI. “Let the wind howl through hawthorn bush!
This night we must away;
XXXII. “Busk, busk, and boune ! Thou mount'st behind
Upon my black barb steed:
We haste to bridal bed."
XXXIX. “Sit fast-dost fear The moon shines clear
Fleet goes my barb-keep hold ! Fear'st thou ?”—“O no!” she faintly said ; "But why so stern and cold ?
XL. “What yonder rings? what yonder sings?
Why shrieks the owlet gray ?" “ 'Tis death-bells' clang, 'tis funeral song,
The body to the clay.
XLI. “ With song and clang, at morrow's dawn,
Ye may inter the dead :
To deck our bridal bed.
O dearest William, stay!
XXXIV. “ Look here, look here—the moon shines clear
Full fast I ween we ride; Mount and away! for ere the day
We reach our bridal bed.
XLII. “Come with thy choir, thou coffin'd guest,
To swell our nuptial song!
The shrouded corpse arose :
High snorts the straining steed;
As headlong on they speed.
XXXV. “The black barb snorts, the bridle rings;
Haste, busk, and boune, and seat thee! The feast is made, the chamber spread, The bridal guests await thee.”
She mounts the barb behind,
Her lily arms she twined.
XLV. “O William, why this savage haste ?
And where thy bridal bed ?"“ 'Tis distant far, low, damp, and chill, And narrow, trustless maid.”—
XLVI. “No room for me!"_“ Enough for both;
Speed, speed, my barb, thy course!”— O'er thundering bridge, through boiling surge,
He drove the furious horse.
LVIL Tramp! tramp! along the land they rode,
Splash! splash! along the sea; The scourge is red, the spur drops blood,
The flashing pebbles flee.
Splash! splash! along the sea;
Each forest, grove, and bower !
XLIX. “ Dost fear i dost fear! The moon shines clear,
Dost fear to ride with me Hurrah! hurrah! the dead can ride !"“O William, let them be! —
L “See there, see there! What yonder swings
And creaks ʼmid whistling rain !"“Gibbet and steel, th' accursed wheel;
A murderer in his chain.
“Hollo! thou felon, follow here:
To bridal bed we ride ; And thou shalt prance a fetter dance Before me and my bride."-
LII. And, hurry! hurry! clash, clash, clash!
The wasted form descends ; And fleet as wind through hazel bush
The wild career attends.
LVIII. “ Hurrah! hurrah! well ride the dead;
The bride, the bride is come; And soon we reach the bridal bed, For, Helen, here's my home." —
Revolved an iron door,
The birds of midnight, scared;
He spurr'd the fiery horse,
Down drops the casque of steel,
The mould’ring flesh the bone,
And, with a fearful bound,
Pale spectres flit along,
LXVI. “E'en when the heart's with anguish cleft,
Revere the doom of Heaven, Her soul is from her body reft;
Her spirit be forgiven !"
LIII. Tramp! tramp! along the land they rode,
Splash! splash! along the sea; The scourge is red, the spur drops blood, The flashing pebbles flee.
How fled what darkness hid !
The heaven above their head!
LV. “Dost fear dost fear! The moon shines clear,
And well the dead can ride;
“O leave in peace the dead !"
LVI. “ Barb! Barb! methinks I hear the cock;
The sand will soon be run:
The race is wellnigh done.”—
The Wild Huntsman.
pp. 167, 168.
There oft is heard, at midnight, or at noon,
And horns, hoarse winded, blowing far and keen
Forthwith the hubbub multiplies; the gale the Wilde Jäger of the German poet Bürger. The Labors with wilder shrieks, and rifer din tradition upon which it is founded bears, that for- Of hot pursuit ; the broken cry of deer merly a Wildgrave, or keeper of a royal forest,
Mangled by throttling dogs; the shouts of men,
And hoofs, thick beating on the hollow hill. named Faulkenburg, was so much addicted to the
Sudden the grazing heifer in the vale pleasures of the chase, and otherwise so extremely
Starts at the noise, and both the herdsman's ears profligate and cruel, that he not only followed this Tingle with inward dread. Aghast, he eyes unhallowed amusement on the Sabbath, and other
The mountain's height, and all the ridges round,
Yet not one trace of living wight discerns, days consecrated to religious duty, but accompa
Nor knows, o'erawed, and trembling as he stands, nied it with the most unheard-of oppression upon To what, or whom, he owes his idle fear, the poor peasants, who were under his vassalage. To ghost, to witch, to fairy, or to fiend ; When this second Nimrod died, the people adopted
But wonders, and no end of wondering finds."
Albania-reprinted in Scottish Descriptive Poems, a superstition, founded probably on the many various uncouth sounds heard in the depth of a German forest, during the silence of the night. They A posthumous miracle of Father Lesley, a Scotconceived they still heard the cry of the Wild- tish capuchin, related to his being buried on a hill grave's hounds; and the well-known cheer of the haunted by these unearthly cries of hounds and deceased hunter, the sounds of his horses' feet, and huntsmen. After his sainted relics had been dethe rustling of the branches before the game, the posited there, the noise was never heard more. pack, and the sportsmen, are also distinctly dis- The reader will find this, and other miracles, recriminated; but the phantoms are rarely, if ever, corded in the life of Father Bonaventura, which is visible. Once, as a benighted Chasseur heard this written in the choicest Italian. infernal chase pass by him, at the sound of the halloo, with which the Spectre Huntsman cheered his hounds, he could not refrain from crying, “ Gluck zu Falkenburgh !” [Good sport to ye,
THE WILD HUNTSMAN. Falkenburgh!] “Dost thou wish me good sport ?” answered a hoarse voice; "thou shalt share the
[1796.'] game;" and there was thrown at him what seemed
THE Wildgrave winds his bugle-horn, to be a huge piece of foul carrion. The daring
To horse, to horse! halloo, halloo ! Chasseur lost two of his best horses soon after, and
His fiery courser snuffs the morn, never perfectly recovered the personal effects of
And thronging serfs their lord pursue.
The eager pack, from couples freed,
Dash through the bush, the brier, the brake;
While answering hound, and horn, and steed, an aerial hunter, who infested the forest of Foun
The mountain echoes startling wake. tainbleau. He was sometimes visible; when he appeared as a huntsman, surrounded with dogs, a
The beams of God's own hallow'd day tall grisly figure. Some account of him may be found in “Sully's Memoirs," who says he was called
Had painted yonder spire with gold,
And, calling sinful man to pray, Le Grand Veneur. At one time he chose to hunt so near the palace, that the attendants, and, if I
Loud, long, and deep the bell had toll’d. mistake not, Sully himself, came out into the
But still the Wildgrave onward rides; court, supposing it was the sound of the king re
Halloo, halloo! and, hark again! turning from the chase. This phantom is else
When, spurring from opposing sides, where called Saint Hubert. The superstition seems to have been very gen
Two Stranger Horsemen join the train. eral, as appears from the following fine poetical
Who was each Stranger, left and right, description of this phantom chase, as it was heard
Well may I guess, but dare not tell; in the wilds of Ross-shire.
The right-hand steed was silver white, ** Ere since of old, the haughty thanes of Ross, –
The left, the swarthy hue of hell.
1 Published (1796) with William and Helen, and entitled To wake the bounding stag, or guilty wolf,