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upon the overshadowed green, his eyes
fixed on the mirrored image never may know
their longings satisfied, and by their sight
he is himself undone. Raising himself
a moment, he extends his arms around,
and, beckoning to the murmuring forest; “Oh,
ye aisled wood was ever man in love
more fatally than I? Your silent paths
have sheltered many a one whose love was told,
and ye have heard their voices. Ages vast
have rolled away since your forgotten birth,
but who is he through all those weary years
that ever pined away as I? Alas,
this fatal image wins my love, as I
behold it. But I cannot press my arms
around the form I see, the form that gives
me joy. What strange mistake has intervened
betwixt us and our love? It grieves me more
that neither lands nor seas nor mountains, no,
nor walls with closed gates deny our loves,
but only a little water keeps us far
asunder. Surely he desires my love
and my embraces, for as oft I strive
to kiss him, bending to the limpid stream
my lips, so often does he hold his face
fondly to me, and vainly struggles up.
It seems that I could touch him. 'Tis a strange
delusion that is keeping us apart.
“Whoever thou art, Come up! Deceive me not!
Oh, whither when I fain pursue art thou?
Ah, surely I am young and fair, the Nymphs
have loved me; and when I behold thy smiles
I cannot tell thee what sweet hopes arise.
When I extend my loving arms to thee
thine also are extended me — thy smiles
return my own. When I was weeping, I
have seen thy tears, and every sign I make
thou cost return; and often thy sweet lips
have seemed to move, that, peradventure words,
which I have never heard, thou hast returned.
“No more my shade deceives me, I perceive
'Tis I in thee—I love myself—the flame
arises in my breast and burns my heart—
what shall I do? Shall I at once implore?
Or should I linger till my love is sought?
What is it I implore? The thing that I
desire is mine—abundance makes me poor.
Oh, I am tortured by a strange desire
unknown to me before, for I would fain
put off this mortal form; which only means
I wish the object of my love away.
Grief saps my strength, the sands of life are run,
and in my early youth am I cut off;
but death is not my bane—it ends my woe.—
I would not death for this that is my love,
as two united in a single soul
would die as one.”
He spoke; and crazed with love,
returned to view the same face in the pool;
and as he grieved his tears disturbed the stream,
and ripples on the surface, glassy clear,
defaced his mirrored form. And thus the youth,
when he beheld that lovely shadow go;
“Ah whither cost thou fly? Oh, I entreat
thee leave me not. Alas, thou cruel boy
thus to forsake thy lover. Stay with me
that I may see thy lovely form, for though
I may not touch thee I shall feed my eyes
and soothe my wretched pains.” And while he spoke
he rent his garment from the upper edge,
and beating on his naked breast, all white
as marble, every stroke produced a tint
as lovely as the apple streaked with red,
or as the glowing grape when purple bloom
touches the ripening clusters.
When as glass
again the rippling waters smoothed, and when
such beauty in the stream the youth observed,
no more could he endure. As in the flame
the yellow wax, or as the hoar-frost melts
in early morning 'neath the genial sun;
so did he pine away, by love consumed,
and slowly wasted by a hidden flame.
No vermeil bloom now mingled in the white
of his complexion fair; no strength has he,
no vigor, nor the comeliness that wrought
for love so long: alas, that handsome form
by Echo fondly loved may please no more.
But when she saw him in his hapless plight,
though angry at his scorn, she only grieved.
As often as the love-lore boy complained,
“Alas!” “Alas!” her echoing voice returned;
and as he struck his hands against his arms,
she ever answered with her echoing sounds.
And as he gazed upon the mirrored pool
he said at last, “Ah, youth beloved in vain!”
“In vain, in vain!” the spot returned his words;
and when he breathed a sad “farewell!” “Farewell!”
sighed Echo too. He laid his wearied head,
and rested on the verdant grass; and those
bright eyes, which had so loved to gaze, entranced,
on their own master's beauty, sad Night closed.
And now although among the nether shades
his sad sprite roams, he ever loves to gaze
on his reflection in the Stygian wave.
His Naiad sisters mourned, and having clipped
their shining tresses laid them on his corpse:
and all the Dryads mourned: and Echo made
lament anew. And these would have upraised
his funeral pyre, and waved the flaming torch,
and made his bier; but as they turned their eyes
where he had been, alas he was not there!
And in his body's place a sweet flower grew,
golden and white, the white around the gold.
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