“Der Knabe im Moor”
By Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, 1842.
The original poem, as it appeared in a the German Morgenblatt.
O schaurig ist’s übers Moor zu gehn,
Wenn es wimmelt vom Heiderauche,
Sich wie Phantome die Dünste drehn
Und die Ranke häkelt am Strauche,
Unter jedem Tritte ein Quellchen springt,
Wenn aus der Spalte es zischt und singt! –
O schaurig ist’s übers Moor zu gehn,
Wenn das Röhricht knistert im Hauche!
Fest hält die Fibel das zitternde Kind
Und rennt als ob man es jage;
Hohl über die Fläche sauset der Wind –
Was raschelt drüben am Hage?
Das ist der gespenstige Gräberknecht,
Der dem Meister die besten Torfe verzecht;
Hu, hu, es bricht wie ein irres Rind!
Hinducket das Knäblein zage.
Vom Ufer starret Gestumpf hervor,
Unheimlich nicket die Föhre,
Der Knabe rennt, gespannt das Ohr,
Durch Riesenhalme wie Speere;
Und wie es rieselt und knittert darin!
Das ist die unselige Spinnerin,
Das ist die gebannte Spinnlenor’,
Die den Haspel dreht im Geröhre!
Voran, voran, nur immer im Lauf,
Voran als woll’ es ihn holen!
Vor seinem Fuße brodelt es auf,
Es pfeift ihm unter den Sohlen
Wie eine gespenstige Melodei;
Das ist der Geigemann ungetreu,
Das ist der diebische Fiedler Knauf,
Der den Hochzeitheller gestohlen!
Da birst das Moor, ein Seufzer geht
Hervor aus der klaffenden Höhle;
Weh, weh, da ruft die verdammte Margret:
»Ho, ho, meine arme Seele!«
Der Knabe springt wie ein wundes Reh;
Wär’ nicht Schutzengel in seiner Näh’,
Seine bleichenden Knöchelchen fände spät
Ein Gräber im Moorgeschwele.
Da mählich gründet der Boden sich,
Und drüben, neben der Weide,
Die Lampe flimmert so heimatlich,
Der Knabe steht an der Scheide.
Tief atmet er auf, zum Moor zurück
Noch immer wirft er den scheuen Blick:
Ja, im Geröhre war’s fürchterlich,
O schaurig war’s in der Heide!
“The Boy on the Moors”
Tranlated by Charles Wharton StorkI am not sure about the legal status of this translation, but I am glad it was posted on Linda Hines’ blog, as the translator turns out to be Charles Wharton Stork. Stork, a rather obscure literary figure, worked for several poetry-related magazines from the 30s to the 70s, and is now all but forgotten. Out of respect to the man’s work, I posted a biographical note I found after the text by Droste-Hülshoff, but I am not I will be able to confirm that this is the person in question. The Boy on the Moors ‘Tis an eerie thing o’er the moor to fare When the eddies of peat-smoke justle, When the wraiths of mist whirl here and there And wind-blown tendrils tussle, When every step starts a hidden spring And the trodden moss-tufts hiss and sing ‘Tis an eerie thing o’er the moor to fare When the tangled reed-beds rustle. The child with his primer sets out alone And speeds as if he were hunted, The wind goes by with a hollow moan– There’s a noise in the hedge-row stunted. ‘Tis the turf-digger’s ghost, near-by he dwells, And for drink his master’s turf he sells. “Whoo! whoo!” comes a sound like a stray cow’s groan; The poor boy’s courage is daunted. Then stumps loom up beside the ditch, Uncannily nod the bushes, The boy running on, each nerve a twitch, Through a jungle of spear-grass pushes. And where it trickles and crackles apace Is the Spinner’s unholy hiding-place, The home of the cursèd Spinning-witch Who turns her wheel ‘mid the rushes. On, ever on, goes the fearsome rout, In pursuit through that region fenny, At each wild stride the bubbles burst out, And the sounds from beneath are many. Until at length from the midst of the din Comes the squeak of a spectral violin, That must be the rascally fiddler lout Who ran off with the bridal penny! The turf splits open, and from the hole Bursts forth an unhappy sighing, “Alas, alas, for my wretched soul!” ‘Tis poor damned Margaret crying! The lad he leaps like a wounded deer, And were not his guardian angel near Some digger might find in a marshy knoll Where his little bleached bones were lying. But the ground grows firmer beneath his feet, And there from over the meadow A lamp is flickering homely-sweet; The boy at the edge of the shadow Looks back as he pauses to take his breath, And in his glance is the fear of death. ‘Twas eerie there ‘mid the sedge and peat, Ah, that was a place to dread, O!
On Charles Wharton Stork, via infoplease.com:
“Born in Philadelphia, Pa., Feb. 12, 1881. Took the degree of A.B. at Haverford College, 1902; of A.M. at Harvard, 1903, and of Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, 1905. He then went abroad to do research work in the universities of England and Germany, where he spent several years. In 1908 he married Elisabeth, daughter of Franz von Pausinger, artist, of Salzburg, Austria, and, returning to America, took up his work at the University of Pennsylvania, where he remained as instructor and associate professor until 1916, when he resigned to engage in literary work. Mr. Stork’s first book of verse to become known was “Sea and Bay”, 1916. Since then he has done a great deal of translating from the Swedish and German, having made admirable renderings of Gustaf Fröding, 1916, as well as many other Swedish poets, whose work he published in an “Anthology of Swedish Lyrics”, 1917. He has since made a translation of “Selected Poems of Verner Von Heidenstam”, the Nobel Prize winner of 1916. In addition to his work in Swedish poetry, he has made an excellent rendering of the lyrics of Hofmansthal, the Austrian poet. Mr. Stork is the editor and owner of `Contemporary Verse’, devoted to the poetry of the present group in America. A second collection of his own verse will soon appear.”
And via the university of Syracuse:
“…American poet, playwright, novelist, editor of Contemporary Verse, 1917-1925, translator of Scandinavian verse, educator.”