is an online magazine of the literary arts.

15 June 2005 | Vol. 5, No. 2

Hermann and Dorothea: 8. Melpomene


Towards the setting sun the two thus went on their journey:

Close he had wrapped himself round with clouds portending a tempest.

Out from the veil, now here and now there, with fiery flashes,

Gleaming over the field shot forth the ominous lightning.

"May not these threatening heavens," said Hermann, "be presently sending

Hailstones upon us and violent rains; for fair is the harvest."

And in the waving luxuriant grain they delighted together:

Almost as high it reached as the lofty shapes that moved through it.

Thereupon spoke the maiden, and said to her guide and companion:

"Friend, unto whom I soon am to owe so kindly a fortune,

Shelter and home, while many an exile's exposed to the tempest,

Tell me concerning thy parents, I pray thee, and teach me to know them,

Them whom with all my heart I desire to serve in the future.

Who understands his master, more easily gives satisfaction,

Having regard to the things which to him seem chief in importance,

And on the doing of which his firm-set mind is determined.

Tell me therefore, I pray, how to win thy father and mother."

And to her question made answer the good and intelligent Hermann:

"Ah, what wisdom thou showest, thou good, thou excellent maiden,

Asking thus first of all concerning the tastes of my parents!

Know that in vain hitherto I have labored in serving my father,

Taking upon me as were it my own, the charge of the household;

Early and late at work in the fields, and o'erseeing the vineyard.

But my mother I fully content, who can value my service;

And thou wilt also appear in her eyes the worthiest of maidens,

If for the house thou carest, as were it thine own thou wast keeping.

Otherwise is it with father, who cares for the outward appearance.

Do not regard me, good maiden, as one who is cold and unfeeling,

That unto thee a stranger I straightway discover my father.

Nay, I assure thee that never before have words such as these are

Freely dropped from my tongue, which is not accustomed to prattle;

But from out of my bosom thou lurest its every secret.

Some of the graces of life my good father covets about him,

Outward signs of affection h