Donna Clara

Heinrich Heine

Translated by Louis Untermeyer

In dem abendlichen Garten

In the evening-colored garden
Wanders the Alcalde’s daughter;
Trumpets’ and the drums’ rejoicings
Rise and echo from the castle.

“Oh, I weary of the dances,
And the cloying, fatuous phrases
Of the knights, who, bowing deeply,
To the sun itself compare me.

“Everything seems dull and tiresome
Since by moonlight I beheld him,
Him, my hero, whose sweet lute-strings
Draw me nightly to my window.

“How he stood; so slim and fiery,
And his eyes were burning boldly
From his pale and classic features—
Looking truly like St. George did.”

Thus mused lovely Donna Clara,
Gazing at the ground beneath her;
As she looked up—lo, the handsome
Unknown knight stood there before her.

Clasping hands with trembling passion,
Now they wander in the moonlight;
Now the flattering breeze is friendly;
Great, enchanted roses greet them.

Great, enchanted roses greet them,
Redder than love’s flaming heralds . . .
“Ah, but tell me, my beloved,
Why these deep and sudden blushes.”

“Gnats were stinging me, my dearest,
And I hate these gnats in summer;
Hate them, love, as though they might be
Nasty Jews with long, hooked noses.”

“Jews and gnats let us forget them,”
Says the knight, with soft persuasion . . .
From the almond tree a thousand
Flower-flakes of white are falling.

Flower-flakes of white are falling,
And their perfume spills about them—
“Ah, but tell me, my beloved,
Is your heart mine, and mine only?”

“Yes, I love but you, my dearest,
And I swear it by the Saviour
Whom the Jews, God’s curse upon them,
Did betray and foully murder.”

“Jews and Saviour—let’s forget them,”
Says the knight, with soft persuasion . . .
Far-off in the dreamy distance
Lilies gleam with light surrounded.

Lilies gleam, with light surrounded,
Gazing at the stars above them. —
“Ah, but tell me, my beloved,
Have you not perhaps sworn falsely?”

“Nothing’s false in me, my dearest;
Just as in my breast there courses
Not a drop of blood that’s Moorish,
Nor a taint of Jewish foulness.”

“Jews and Moors—let us forget them,”
Says the knight, with soft persuasion,
And, into a grove of myrtle,
Guides the fair Alcalde’s daughter.

With Love’s soft and supple meshes
He has secretly entrapped her.
Short their words, but long their kisses;
And their hearts are running over.

Like a melting, poignant bride-song,
Sings the nightingale, uplifted;
Like a thousand torchlight dancers
Leap the fireflies from the bushes.

In the grove the stillness deepens.
Nought is heard except the murmurs
Of the wise and nodding myrtle
And the breathing of the flowers.

But the shock of drums and trumpets
Breaks out wildly from the castle,
And it wakes the lovely Clara
From the arms of her beloved.

“Hark ! they call to me, my dearest;
But before we part, pray tell me
What, my love, your own dear name is
That you’ve hidden so long from me.”

And the knight, with gentle laughter,
Presses kisses on her fingers,
On her lips and on her forehead;
And at last he turns and answers:

“I, Seńora, your beloved,
Am the son of the respected,
Erudite and noble Rabbi
Israel of Saragossa.”

SOURCE: Heine, Heinrich. “Donna Clara” [from Book of Songs] in Poems of Heinrich Heine: Three Hundred and Twenty-Five Poems, translated by Louis Untermeyer (New York: Henry Holt, 1917), pp. 146-149.

Note: There are slight variations in different editions of this volume.

La Voĉoj de Kálmán Kalocsay (disko)
(@8:45: “Donna Klara” de Heinrich Heine, trad. Kálmán Kalocsay)

Heinrich Heine: Selected Bibliography

Heinrich Heine en Esperanto


Donna Clara” by Heinrich Heine
translated by Emma Lazarus
(in English & German)

Donna Clara” by Heinrich Heine (in English & German)

Donna Clara” (in German) by Heinrich Heine,
in Buch der Lieder

Engineering Epic Poetry” by Jake Marmer
(Forward, July 13, 2011)
[on Louis Zukofsky’s use of Heine’s poem]

Poem beginning “The”
Z-site: A Companion to the Works of Louis Zukofsky

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