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THE NAMELESS ONE.

This is the Mangan poem that James Joyce best loved to recite. Indeed we find its titular apparition (in a context considerably less lugubrious than the original) in the “Circe” episode of the novel Ulysses ~

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(A panel of fog rolls back rapidly, revealing rapidly in the jurybox the faces of Martin Cunningham, foreman, silkhatted, Jack Power, Simon Dedalus, Tom Kernan, Ned Lambert, John Henry Menton, Myles Crawford, Lenehan, Paddy Leonard, Nosey Flynn, McCoy, and the featureless face of a Nameless One.)
THE NAMELESS ONE: Bareback riding. Weight for age. Gob, he organised her.
THE JURORS: (All their heads turned to his voice) Really?
THE NAMELESS ONE: (Snarls) Arse over tip. Hundred shillings to five.
THE JURORS: (All their heads lowered in assent) Most of us thought as much.

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Note in reading Clarence Mangan’s poem (“a painful autobiography,” says O’Donoghue) that to dree is to endure ; and that fellow poets Maginn and Burns were fond of the drop to sodden excess, it is sometimes said.

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++++++THE NAMELESS ONE.

Roll forth, my song, like the rushing river,
+That sweeps along to the mighty sea ;
God will inspire me while I deliver
+++++++++My soul of thee !
++++++
Tell thou the world, when my bones lie whitening
+Amid the last homes of youth and eld,
That there was once one whose veins ran lightning
+++++++++No eye beheld.
++++++
Tell how his boyhood was one drear night-hour,
+How shone for him, through his griefs and gloom,
No star of all heaven sends to light our
+++++++++Path to the tomb.
++++++
Roll on, my song, and to after ages
+Tell how, disdaining all earth can give,
He would have taught men, from wisdom’s pages,
+++++++++The way to live.
++++++
And tell how trampled, derided, hated,
+And worn by weakness, disease, and wrong,
He fled for shelter to God, who mated
+++++++++His soul with song ;—
++++++
With song which alway, sublime or vapid,
+Flowed like a rill in the morning-beam,
Perchance not deep, but intense and rapid,—
+++++++++A mountain stream.
++++++
Tell how this Nameless, condemned for years long
+To herd with demons from hell beneath,
Saw things that made him, with groans and tears, long
+++++++++For even death.
++++++
Go on to tell how, with genius wasted,
+Betrayed in friendship, befooled in love,
With spirit shipwrecked, and young hopes blasted,
+++++++++He still, still strove,—
++++++
Till, spent with toil, dreeing death for others,
+And some whose hands should have wrought for him
(If children live not for sires and mothers,)
+++++++++His mind grew dim,—
++++++
And he fell far through that pit abysmal,
+The gulf and grave of Maginn and Burns,
And pawned his soul for the devil’s dismal
+++++++++Stock of returns ;—
++++++
But yet redeemed it in days of darkness,
+And shapes and signs of the final wrath,
When death, in hideous and ghastly starkness,
+++++++++Stood on his path.
++++++
And tell how now, amid wreck and sorrow,
+And want, and sickness, and houseless nights,
He bides in calmness the silent morrow,
+++++++++That no ray lights.
++++++
And lives he still, then ? Yes ! Old and hoary
+At thirty-nine, from despair and woe,
He lives enduring what future story
+++++++++Will never know.
++++++
Him grant a grave to, ye pitying noble,
+Deep in your bosoms ! There let him dwell !
He, too, had tears for all souls in trouble,
+++++++++Here, and in hell.

++++++
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TWENTY GOLDEN YEARS AGO.

The present poem first appeared in The Dublin University Magazine in June of 1840 as one in James Clarence Mangan’s series of “Stray Leaflets From the German Oak”. Mangan was an admired translator out of various tongues, but had as well earned a reputation for intricate literary hoaxes and a sort of “reverse plagiarism” (what he himself called “the antithesis of plagiarism”, i. e., passing off one’s own writings as the work of another) which he perpetrated complete with invented exotic origins, sly foot-notes and punning pseudonyms. As with many of the assumed Oriental oversettings he made “From the Ottoman” under various noms de plume, the Irish author claimed to have translated verses from the German of a certain poet named “Selber” (Ger. selber, “oneself” ; Ich selber, “myself”). Hood-winked readers were led along page by page with a battery of critical interpretations and a mockery of marginalia :

 

Nobody can translate Selber to advantage : his peculiar idiosyncrasy unfortunately betrays itself in every line he writes— and there exists, moreover, an evident wish on his part to show the world that he possesses
“A life within himself, to breathe without mankind.”

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No evidence ever emerged to confirm that person’s existence, and any act, on Mangan’s part, of “translating” Herr Selber must have only held to Quince’s sense of metamorphosis in Shakespeare : “Thou art translated !”

Be all that as it may, this nostalgic poem breathes a comfortable sort of fireside melancholy, and the mention of the poet Kerner, in a touch of seriocomic rivalry, is significant : Mangan made real English versions of Kerner’s verses for his famous Anthologia Germanica. ~Q~

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https://i0.wp.com/www.christies.com/lotfinderimages/d42758/d4275886r.jpg

TWENTY GOLDEN YEARS AGO.

+++++++++++++(SELBER.)

O, the rain, the weary, dreary rain,
++How it plashes on the window-sill !
Night, I guess too, must be on the wane,
+++Strass and Gass around are grown so still.
Here I sit, with coffee in my cup—
++Ah ! ’twas rarely I beheld it flow
In the taverns where I loved to sup
+++Twenty golden years ago !

Twenty years ago, alas !— but stay,
++On my life, ’tis half-past twelve o’clock !
After all, the hours do slip away—
+++Come, here goes to burn another block !
For the night, or morn, is wet and cold,
++And my fire is dwindling rather low :—
I had fire enough, when young and bold,
+++Twenty golden years ago.

Dear ! I don’t feel well at all, somehow :
++Few in Weimar dream how bad I am ;
Floods of tears grow common with me now,
+++High-Dutch floods, that Reason cannot dam.
Doctors think I’ll neither live nor thrive
++If I mope at home so— I don’t know—
Am I living now ? I was alive
+++Twenty golden years ago.

Wifeless, friendless, flagonless, alone,
++Not quite bookless, though, unless I chuse,
Left with nought to do, except to groan,
+++Not a soul to woo, except the Muse—
O ! this, this is hard for me to bear,
++Me, who whilome lived so much en haut,
Me, who broke all hearts like chinaware
+++Twenty golden years ago !

P’rhaps ’tis better :—Time’s defacing waves
++Long have quenched the radiance of my brow—
They who curse me nightly from their graves
+++Scarce could love me were they living now ;
But my loneliness hath darker ills—
++Such dun-duns as Conscience, Thought and Co.,
Awful Gorgons ! worse than tailors’ bills
+++Twenty golden years ago.

Did I paint a fifth of what I feel,
++O, how plaintive you would ween I was !
But I won’t, albeit I have a deal
+++More to wail about than Kerner has !
Kerner’s tears are wept for withered flowers,
++Mine for withered hopes ; my Scroll of Woe
Dates, alas ! from Youth’s deserted bowers,
+++Twenty golden years ago.

Yet, may Deutschland’s bardlings flourish long !
++Me, I tweak no beak among them ;— hawks
Must not pounce on hawks ; besides, in song
+++I could once beat all of them by chalks.
Though you find me, as I near my goal,
++Sentimentalising like Rousseau,
Oh ! I had a grand Byronian soul
+++Twenty golden years ago !

Tick-tick, tick-tick !— Not a sound save Time’s,
++And the wind-gust, as it drives the rain—
Tortured torturer of reluctant rhymes,
+++Go to bed, and rest thine aching brain !
Sleep !— no more the dupe of hopes or schemes ;
++Soon thou sleepest where the thistles blow—
Curious anticlimax to thy dreams
+++Twenty golden years ago !

++++++++++++++++++++++++J. C. M.

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PATHETIC HYPOTHETICS.

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/The_First_Quadrille_at_Almack%27s.jpg

From his boyhood in the Liberties of Dublin, James Clarence Mangan undertook extensive studies in several languages, although, in the judgement of Holzapfel and other scholars, his remarkable facility in German seems to have been self-taught (strictly at home——Mangan never left Ireland). In any event, his talents were well suited to the tasks of reviewing and translation, and as a librarian’s clerk at Dublin University (i.e. Trinity) he had access to many anthologies of the German poets in the original tongue.

PATHETIC HYPOTHETICS is an oversetting of the Swabian poet Schubart. In the hands of Mangan (the drinking poet who rendezvous’d at the Shades Tavern in College Green) the production becomes entirely Irish in spirit. His version even scans jollily in jig time. It is shown here as introduced by a pertinent passage from Mangan’s own critical remarks (in a typical touch of self-annotation by “us”) to his Anthologia Germanica, a very mighty enterprise of translation which gradually appeared in The Dublin University Magazine over the years from 1835 to 1846 :

We have here, in M. Klauer’s first volume, a song by SCHUBART, the excessive pathos of which would go far, if read aloud at a conversazione, to justify, except among the very stout, a general sympathetic syncope. Wenn Hoffnung nicht wär’, so lebt’ ich nicht mehr, If Hope were not, I should exist no more ! begins the Poet :— Wie lieblich (he adds) erscheint uns ihr Schimmer ! How beautifully beams her light on us !— and the same affecting strain is pursued to the close. The touching tenderness of the original it is of course difficult for a translator to give in all its perfection ; but luckily for us the Lachrymose happens to be our forte ; and therefore, most complaisant Reading Public, you will kindly accompany us through our version, “sighing like furnace” as you proceed, and be good enough,
“If you have tears prepared, to shed them now,”
over this dolorous ditty of

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PATHETIC HYPOTHETICS.
(Schubart.)

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Were Hope all my eye,
‘Tis a fact I should die,
Her light is much brighter than ten tallow-candles ;
When crotchets and cares are consuming
Some fanciful spooney, she takes him
Where cowslips and daisies are blooming,
And never entirely forsakes him,
Till Death lays him down in the box without handles.
Handles, handles,
The box without handles,
Till Death shuts him up in his box without handles.

Were Friendship a hum,
I could weep o’er my rum,
For I hate to be mixing companionless tumblers.
Even moles, quoth Buffon, are gregarious,
And cats, when they turn caterwaulers ;
Et moi, I like various contrarious
Assemblies——both punch-drinking bawlers
And sighers of sighs——both your grinners and grumblers.
Grumblers, grumblers,
Your grinners and grumblers,
I have grins for your grinners and growls for your grumblers.

Were Love all a hoax,
So that no one could coax
A rich widow to wed, what could well be forlorner ?
To be wheedling some innocent charmer,
Who reckons her thousands by thirties,
And hasn’t the heart to wear armour
Against Cupid’s arrows, is, certes,
Far better than moping alone in a corner.
Corner, corner,
Alone in a corner,
More pleasant than kicking your heels in a corner !

Were Music a bam,
I might chatter and cram,
But a seal would be clapped on my Fountains of Feeling.
Oh ! nothing melts bosoms at all like
The exquisite tones of a fiddle !
I hop round the room at a ball like
A hen on a scorching hot griddle !
Good lack ! I could bound from the floor to the ceiling.
Ceiling, ceiling,
The floor to the ceiling,
Next night, faith, I’ll bob my big head through the ceiling.

Were Wine all a quiz,
I should wear a long phiz
As I mounted each night to my ninth-story garret.
Though Friendship, the traitress, deceives me,
Though Hope may have long ceased to flatter,
Though Music, sweet infidel, leaves me,
Though Love is my torment——what matter !
I’ve still such a thing as a rummer of claret.
Claret, claret,
A rummer of claret,
I laugh and grow fat on my buttermilk claret.

______________________

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THE DEVIL AND THE WIND.

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.                       THE DEVIL AND THE WIND.

.                                     (From the Rheinsagen.)

.                                                  A LEGEND.

.                                                               I.

Before the Jesuits’ House at Bonn the Wind pipes high and shrill,
It pipes all day, it wails all night—’tis never, never still :
It shrieketh like a woman who hath not—or hath—her will.

.                                                              II.

And why thus pipes, and why thus wails it, wails it night and day ?
The cause is told in many an old and wizard monkish lay.
For ancient is that holy House, now falling to decay.

.                                                            III.

The Devil, sadly tired of Hell, went once a-pleasuring forth,
And with him went his chosen chum, the wild Wind of the North—
When thus he spake—I give ye his words for what ye deem them worth :

.                                                            IV.

“Good friend and faithful crony mine !—you mark that high House yon—
That is the Jesuits’ Cloister-house, the far-famed House of Bonn ;
And well and dearly love I, Wind, its dwellers every one !

.                                                            V.

“So, you, my trump, just tarry here before the gate a space,
Just wait while I step in a bit, and glance about the place ;
I want to see the Father Prior anent a conscience-case.”

.                                                           VI.

“Ha!” laughed the Wind, “that must be a Case of real Distress, no doubt !
However, you yourself know best—so, in with you, old Trout !
I’m safe to wait and whistle here until you again come out.”

.                                                         VII.

So said, so done : the Wind began its whistling there and then,
And in the Arch-Deceiver stole, to tempt the holy men—
Filled with all wiles and subtleties was he that hour, ye ken !

.                                                        VIII.

“Hail, pious friends !” quoth he—“I’ve got a conscience-case to moot.
Pray, can I see your Prior’s face ?”—“Ay ! and much more to boot,”
A monk replied, “if he, in turn, may only see thy foot.

.                                                         IX.

“Avaunt, foul fiend ! I know thee well ! I guess thy crafty plot !
Begone !—But no !—thou shalt not hence : I chain thee to this spot !
Here shalt thou, till this House be dust, dree thine avenging lot !”

.                                                         X.

The monk then chained Old Clootie down, despite his yells and cries,
And from that day—the Bonnsmen say—in thraldom thus he lies,
Because, from dread of direr dool, he dares not try to rise.

.                                                        XI.

Meanwhile the Wind still waits without, and pipes in woful strain—
It whistles now—it howls anon—it storms, but all in vain.
Three hundred years have rolled, but Satan comes not forth again !

.                                                       XII.

And Time and Hell go on to swell the victories both have won,
And many a generation since of monks has come and gone,
But still before that Cloister wails the wonder-wind of Bonn !

.                    James Clarence Mangan (after the German of Simrock)


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Mangan’s Englishing of German verse

Although its stanzas read like the easy and natural expression of an Irish wag’s literary idiom (all the while anticipating the rhyming patter of Percy French, W. S. Gilbert, and Chesterton), THE METEMPSYCHOSIS is one of Clarence Mangan’s translations from the German — in this case a poem from the pen of Ignaz Franz Castelli, an Austrian contemporary.

With all the influence Mangan had upon James Joyce —who loved to recite Mangan’s threnody “The Nameless One”— we might note that in the novel Ulysses the reader encounters the term metempsychosis (Greek for “transmigration of souls” – thank you, Leopold Bloom ; or “met him pike hoses”, as his lady wife, Molly, renders it).

Below that offering is a link to Castelli’s original poem, Die Seelenwanderung, out of which the Irishman made his wonderfully ebullient oversetting. He alters the poem noticeably. For example, the litany of “Leibnitz, Chubb and Toland” (to rhyme with “soul, and…”) is pure added Mangan.

Then please find MY THEMES, which is Mangan’s rendering of Ferdinand Freiligrath’s poem Meine Stoffe (the German original is linked underneath it). Mitigating a reputation as a spurious translator of Oriental verse, we may state that Mangan’s German Orientalist connection, which he turned to his advantage through his proficiency in German, actually reveals an occasionally genuine source of Eastern material, though it is once removed for its Teutonic medium.

Third and last, behold NATURE MORE THAN SCIENCE, Mangan’s exquisite Englishing of Das eine Lied (“The One Song”) by Friedrich Rückert.

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                   THE METEMPSYCHOSIS.
                                        (Castelli.)
.
I’ve studied sundry treatises by spectacled old sages
.     Anent the capabilities and nature of the soul, and
Its vagabond propensities from even the earliest ages,
.     As harped on by Spinosa, Plato, Leibnitz, Chubb and Toland;
But of all systems I’ve yet met, or p’rhaps shall ever meet with,
Not one can hold a candle to (videlicet, compete with)
The theory of theories Pythagoras proposes,
And called by that profound old snudge (in Greek) Metempsychosis.
.
It seems to me a pos’tive truth, admitting of no modi-
.     Fication, that the human soul, accustomed to a lodging
Inside a carnal tenement, must, when it quits one body,
.     Instead of sailing to and fro, and profitlessly dodging
About from post to pillar without either pause or purpose,
Seek out a habitation in some other cozy corpus,
And when, by luck, it pops on one with which its habits match, box
Itself therein instanter, like a sentry in a watch-box.
.
This may be snapped at, sneered at, sneezed at. Deuce may care for cavils.
.     Reason is reason. Credit me, I’ve met at least one myriad
Of instances to prop me up. I’ve seen (upon my travels)
.     Foxes who had been lawyers at (no doubt) some former period;
Innumerable apes, who, though they’d lost their patronymics,
I recognised immediately as mountebanks and mimics,
And asses, calves, etcet’ra, whose rough bodies gave asylum
To certain souls, the property of learn’d professors whilome.
.
To go on with my catalogue: what will you bet I’ve seen a
.      Goose, that was reckoned in her day a pretty-faced young woman?
But more than that, I knew at once a bloody-lipped hyena
.     To’ve been a Russian Marshal, or an ancient Emperor (Roman).
All snakes and vipers, toads and reptiles, crocodiles and crawlers
I set down as court sycophants or hypocritic bawlers,
And there I may’ve been right or wrong—but nothing can be truer
Than this, that in a scorpion I beheld a vile reviewer.
.
So far we’ve had no stumbling-block. But now a puzzling question
.     Arises: all the afore-named souls were souls of stunted stature,
Contemptible or cubbish—but Pythag. has no suggestion
    Concerning whither transmigrate souls noble in their nature,
As Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Schiller—these now, for example,
What temple can be found for such appropriately ample?
Where lodge they now?  Not, certes, in our present ninnyhammers,
Who mumble rhymes that seem to’ve been concocted by their Gammers.
.
Well, then, you see, it comes to this—and after huge reflection
.     Here’s what I say: A soul that gains, by many transmigrations,
The summit, apex, pinnacle, or acmé of perfection,
.     There ends, concludes and terminates its earthly per’grinations.
Then, like an air-balloon, it mounts through high Olympus’ portals,
And cuts its old connections with Mortality and mortals;
And evidence to back me here I don’t know any stronger
Than that the truly Great and Good are found on Earth no longer.
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http://tinyurl.com/85pd42h

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.                           MY THEMES.

.                        TO MY READERS.

.                              (Freiligrath.)

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.       “Most weary man !—why wreathest thou
Again and yet again,” methinks I hear you ask,
.       “The turban on thy sunburnt brow?
.          Wilt never vary
.             Thy tristful task,
.       But sing, still sing, of sands and seas as now,
.  Housed in thy willow zumbul on the Dromedary?
.
.       “Thy tent has now o’ermany times
.  Been pitched in treeless places on old Ammon’s plains!
.       We long to greet in blander climes
.          The Love and Laughter
.             Thy soul disdains.
.       Why wanderest ever thus in prolix rhymes
.  Through snows and stony wastes, while we come toiling after?
.
.       “Awake!  Thou art as one who dreams;
.  Thy quiver overflows with melancholy sand!
.       Thou faintest in the noontide beams!
.          Thy crystal beaker
.             Of Song is banned!
.       Filled with the juice of poppies from dull streams
.  In sleepy Indian dells, it can but make thee weaker!
.
.       “O! cast away the deadly draught,
.  And glance around thee then with an awakened eye!
.       The waters healthier bards have quaffed
.          At Europe’s Fountains
.             Still babble by,
.       Bright now as when the Grecian Summer laughed,
.  And Poesy’s first flowers bloomed on Apollo’s mountains!
.
.        “So many a voice thine era hath,
.  And thou art deaf to all!  O, study Mankind!  Probe
.       The heart!  Lay bare its Love and Wrath,
.          Its Joy and Sorrow!
.             Not round the globe,
.       O’er flood and field and dreary desert-path,
.  But into thine own bosom look, and thence thy marvels borrow.
.
.       “Weep!  Let us hear thy tears resound
.  From the dark iron concave of Life’s Cup of Woe!
.       Weep for the souls of Mankind, bound
         In chains of Error!
.             Our tears will flow
.       In sympathy with thine when thou hast wound
Our feelings up to the proper pitch of Grief or Terror!
.
.       “Unlock the life-gates of the flood
.  That rushes through thy veins!  Like Vultures we delight
.       To glut our appetites with blood!
.          Remorse, Fear, Torment,
.             The blackening blight
      Love smites young hearts withal—these be the food
.  For us!  Without such stimulants our dull souls lie dormant!
.
.       “But no long voyagings—oh, no more
.  Of the weary East or South—no more of the Simoom—
      No apples from the Dead Sea shore—
.          No fierce volcanoes,
.             All fire and gloom!
.       Or else, at most, sing basso, we implore,
.  Of Orient sands, while Europe’s flowers monopolise thy Sopranos!”
.
.       Thanks, friends, for this your kind advice!
.  Would I could follow it—could bide in balmier lands!
.       But those far arctic tracts of ice,
.          Those wildernesses
.             Of wavy sands,
.       Are the only home I have. They must suffice
.  For one whose lonely hearth no smiling Peri blesses.
.
.       Yet, count me not the more forlorn
.  For my barbarian tastes. Pity me not. Oh, no!
.       The heart laid waste by Grief or Scorn,
.          Which inly knoweth
.             Its own deep woe,
.       Is the only Desert. There no spring is born
.  Amid the sands—in that no shady Palm-tree groweth!
.

http://tinyurl.com/6nfr5ff

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NATURE MORE THAN SCIENCE.

                 (Rückert.)

I have a thousand thousand lays,
.   Compact of myriad myriad words,
And so can sing a million ways,
.   Can play at pleasure on the chords
Of tunèd harp or heart;
.   Yet is there one sweet song
.   For which in vain I pine and long;
I cannot reach that song, with all my minstrel-art!
.
A shepherd sits within a dell,
.   O’er-canopied from rain and heat:
A shallow but pellucid well
.   Doth ever bubble at his feet.
His pipe is but a leaf,
.   Yet there, above that stream,
.   He plays and plays, as in a dream,
One air that steals away the senses like a thief.
.
A simple air it seems in truth,
.   And who begins will end it soon;
Yet when that hidden shepherd-youth
.   So pours it in the ear of Noon,
Tears flow from those anear.
.   All songs of yours and mine
.   Condensed in one were less divine
Than that sweet air to sing, that sweet, sweet air to hear!
.
‘Twas yesternoon he played it last;
.   The hummings of a hundred bees
Were in mine ears, yet, as I passed,
.   I heard him through the myrtle trees.
Stretched all along he lay,
.   ‘Mid foliage half-decayed.
.   His lambs were feeding while he played,
And sleepily wore on the stilly Summer-day.
.

                       —o—

       DAS EINE LIED.

Ich weiß der Lieder viele,
Und singe was ihr liebt.
Das ist wol gut zum Spiele,
Weil Wechsel Freude giebt;
Doch hätte Lieb’ und Friede
Genug an Einem Liede,
Und fragte nicht, wo’s hundert giebt.

Jüngst sah ich einen Hirten
Im stillen Wiesenthal,
Wo klare Bächlein irrten
Am hellen Sonnenstral.
Er lag am schatt’gen Baume,
Und blies als wie im Traume
Ein Lied auf einem Blättlein schmal.

Das Lied, es mochte steigen
Nur wenig Tön’ hinauf.
Dann mußt’ es hin sich neigen,
Und nahm denselben Lauf.
Es freut’ ihn immer wieder;
Gern hätt’ ich meine Lieder
Geboten all dafür zum Kauf.

Er blies sein Lied, und lies es,
Und sah sich um im Hag,
Hub wieder an und blies es,
Ich schaute wie er lag:
Er sah bei seinem Blasen
Die stillen Lämmlein grasen,
Und langsam fliehn den Sommertag.

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