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  • Translation

Three Heine Poems

Ich glaub nicht an den Himmel

I don’t believe in Heaven,

Whose peace the preacher cites:

I only trust your eyes now,

They’re my heavenly lights.

I don’t believe in God above,

Who gets the preacher’s nod:

I only trust your heart now,

And have no other god.

I don’t believe in Devils,

In hell or hell’s black art:

I only trust your eyes now,

And your devil’s heart.

Die Unbekannte

My golden-haired beauty,

I’m always sure of seeing,

In the Tuileries Gardens,

Under the chestnut trees.

Every day she’s out walking

With two ugly old ladies –

Are they aunts? Or dragons,

Disguised in women’s clothing?

Could no one give me a clue then,

Of who she was? I asked my friends,

All of them, but all in vain,

I was nearly ill with passion.

Daunted by the moustaches

Of her elderly companions,

And daunted by my own heart

Even more completely,

I never dared to whisper

A single sighed word in passing,

Scarce dared to show my ardour,

By the passion in my glances.

Only today I’ve learnt at last

Her name. She’s called Laura,

Like the beautiful Provençale

A great poet fell in love with.

She’s called Laura! Now I’ve got as

Far as, long ago, Petrarch did,

Who praised the lovely woman

In canzones and sonettos.

She’s called Laura! Just like Petrarch,

I can try platonic toying

With her name’s melodic music –

He himself achieved no more.

Es liegt der heisse Sommer

There lies the heat of summer

On your cheek’s lovely art:

There lies the cold of winter

Within your little heart.

That will change, beloved,

The end not as the start!

Winter on your cheek then,

Summer in your heart.

Translation © A.S. Kline

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