Verse > Anthologies > Margarete Münsterberg, ed., trans. > A Harvest of German Verse
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Margarete Münsterberg, ed., trans.  A Harvest of German Verse.  1916.
 
Nekropolis
By Isolde Kurz (1853–1944)
 
A CITY is standing in the waves
That rose from the deepest lair:
There each of the houses the water laves
And kisses each marble stair;
There palaces stand in their glory’s pride        5
And gilded are pillar and wall—
But over the battlements far and wide
Destruction is brooding for all.
 
No sound of wheel or of hoof is known
The lion to wake from his dream,        10
But low from the Lido the night-winds moan
And wildly the sea-gulls scream.
The moon makes silver the silent tide,
The gondolas glide their way,
And seaweeds on the water ride—        15
Like wind-tossed corpses stray.
 
O pearl, thou of all in the deep most fair,
Thou beauty out of the sea,
Where are thy daughters with golden hair,
Thy sons, oh, where may they be?        20
And where is thy splendour, the gleam of thy gold,
That all the earth would dread?
The arts that so many a heart would hold?
Where is thy realm? With the dead.
 
By night, though, the greatest canal along,        25
Where the flickering night lights play
Rise sounds like whispering and amorous song
Of shades that deserted stray.
Frolicking swarms of masks whirl round
Upon the Piazza near by,        30
And clashing swords on the Riva resound;
High masts are darkening the sky.
 
It seems as if from the night and deep
Had risen the Venice of old.
The waves and the sea wind wake from sleep,        35
Her corpse to rock and to hold.
The sea is rising, with passionate arms
There by the canal-bed to cling,
As if the young spouse with his kisses and charms
To her beauty new life should bring.        40
 
 
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