Strew the Way with Flowers by Ludwig Christoph Heinrich Hölty

O strew the way with rosy flowers,
And dupe with smiles thy grief and gloom!
For tarnished leaves and songless hours
Await thee in the tomb.
Lo, in the brilliant festal hall
How lightly youth and beauty tread!
Yet, gaze again : the grass is tall
Above their charnel bed.

In blaze of noon the jewelled bride
Before the altar plights her faith :
Ere weep the skies of eventide
Her eyes are dulled in death.
Then sigh no more. If life be brief,
So are its woes ; and why repine?
Pavilioned bv the linden leaf.
We’ll quaff the chaliced wine.

Wild music from the nightingale
Comes floating on the loaded breeze.
To mingle in the bowery vale
With hum of summer bees;
Then taste the joys that God bestows,
The beaded wine, the faithful kiss!
For while the tide of pleasure flows.
Death bares his black abyss.

In vain the zephyr’s breath perfumes
The house of death ; in vain its tones
Shall mourn at midnight round the tombs
Where sleep our blackening bones.
The star-bright bowl is broken there.
The witchery of the lute is o’er.
And, wreck of wrecks! there lie the fair
Whose beauty wins no more.

From: Mangan, James Clarence, His Selected Poems with a study by the editor Louise Imogen Guiney, 1897: Lamson, Wolffe and Company: Boston and New York, pp. 213-14.

Date: 1776 (German); 1834 (translated)

By: Ludwig Christoph Heinrich Hölty (1748-1776)

Translated by: James Clarence Mangan (1803-1849)


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