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.
 
Summer Night
By Gottfried Keller (1819–1890)
 
THE GRAIN is waving far around,
And like a sea it stretches out;
And yet upon the silent ground
No horrid sea-brood lies about.
But here of wreaths the flowers dream,        5
As they drink in the star-shine blest.
Oh, golden sea, thy peaceful beam
My longing soul absorbs with zest!
 
There is a custom fair and old
In my own home in valleys green:        10
When bright the summer starlight’s gold,
When through the bushes fireflies sheen—
Ah, then a whisp’ring, waving gay,
Draws near the ripened field by night,
And through the golden crops there sway        15
The sickles, gleaming silver-bright.
 
For, flocking to the field in throngs,
The young and sturdy lads draw near.
The crop they’re seeking that belongs
To widow or to orphan drear        20
Who kindly help can never know
Of father, brother, servant boy.—
For her the youths her harvest mow;
Their work is graced by purest joy.
 
Already all the sheaves are bound        25
And swiftly in a ring they’re laid.
How blithe the fleeting hours were found:
At night-time cool the boys have played!
Now there are songs and revels glad
Among the sheaves, till breath of day        30
Each brown and never weary lad
To his own labour calls away.
 
 
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