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.
 
The Duration of Love
By Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810–1876)
 
OH, love as long as you can love,
Oh, love as long as love you may!
The hour will come, the hour will come:
By graves lamenting you will stay.
 
And ever keep your heart aglow,        5
And let it foster love with care,
As long as still another heart
Beats with it warmly anywhere.
 
If one unseals his breast to you,
Ah, do him all the good you can—        10
And all his hours with gladness fill,
And grieve him not for one hour’s span!
 
Your tongue—ah, hold it well in check!—
Is quick to say an evil word.
Oh God, it was not meant so ill!        15
Yet pained he turns away who heard.
 
Oh, love as long as you can love,
Oh, love as long as love you may!
The hour will come, the hour will come:
By graves lamenting you will stay.        20
 
Then you kneel down before the grave,
And hide your tearful eyes—alas!
They see the loved one now no more—
In long and dewy graveyard grass,
 
And say: “Look down upon me here        25
Who by your grave am weeping still;
Forgive that I have given pain:
Oh God, it was not meant so ill!”
 
He sees you not and hears you not,
And seeks not your embrace—ah, no,        30
The lips that kissed you oft, no more
Say: “I forgave you long ago.”
 
He did forgive you long ago,
And hot fell many a tear as toll
For you and for your bitter word—        35
But hush!—He’s resting at his goal.
 
Oh, love as long as you can love,
Oh, love as long as love you may!
The hour will come, the hour will come:
By graves lamenting you will stay!        40
 
 
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