Spirit of Como, whose rhythmical call
Murmurs caressingly under my wall,
Why are thy feet, though the hour be late,
Mounting the moon-silvered steps of my gate?
What is the cause of this passionate strain,
Voiced by thy wavelets again and again?
Near to the lake, and surmounting the lawn,
Sculptured Undine sits facing the dawn;
White, on the rocks of the fountain below,
Glistens her form, like a statue of snow;
Smiling, she listens, entranced, to the call,
Sung so alluringly under my wall.
Leaf-woven ladders of ivy-wreathed vines
Fall from the rampart in undulant lines;
Silken and slender, they swing in the breeze,
Tempting the lover to clamber with ease
Up to the garden, to woo and to take
Lovely Undine away to the lake.
Boldly Love’s wavelets now leap to the land,
Swiftly they scale every tremulous strand,
Lightly they sway with the wavering screen,
White gleam their feet on its background of green;
Yet the old parapet, mossy and gray,
Never is reached by their glittering spray.
Hear you that music, half song and half sigh?
Sylph-like Undine is making reply:—
“Though I so motionless sit here above,
I am not deaf to thy pleadings of love;
Others regard me as passionless stone,
Only to thee shall my nature be known.
“Men who behold me, praise merely my art,
Never suspecting I too have a heart;
Under the marble the world cannot see
All I am keeping there only for thee;
Secrets of love are of all the most sweet;
Mine I will whisper to thee when we meet.
“Under the wall thou hast bravely assailed,
Under the vines, where thy wavelets have failed,
Passes this fountain; though cradled in snows,
Straight to thy waters it secretly flows;
Leaving my cold, marble counterpart here,
On that swift current I come to thee, dear!”
Hushed is the lover’s importunate call;
Silence and mystery brood over all;
Still my Undine sits facing the dawn;
’Tis but a mask, for her spirit is gone,—
Gone on that crystalline path to the deep,
Lured there to ecstasy, lulled there to sleep.