Ad Finem

by Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)

English translation by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The years they come and go,
The races drop in the grave,
Yet never the love doth so
Which here in my heart I have.

Could I see thee but once, one day,
And sink down so on my knee,
And die in thy sight while I say,
“Lady, I love but thee!”

original German:

Die Jahre kommen und gehen,
Geschlechter steigen ins Grab,
Doch nimmer vergeht die Liebe
Die ich im Herzen hab’.

Nur einmal möcht ich dich sehen
Und sinken vor dir aufs Knie
Und sterbend zu dir sprechen:
‘Madam ich liebe Sie’.

Heinrich Heine

In “Poems Selected from Heinrich Heine” (1887), Kate Freiligrath Kroeker writes that it was in December 1844 Heinrich Heine received such terrible news that, by January 1845, he was struck with “a sort of creeping paralysis, which if it did not initiate the later dread disease of the poet, undoubtedly accelerated it.” His uncle, Salomon Heine, had passed away and his cousin, Carl, refused to honor a verbal bequest the deceased had promised his nephew. In earlier years, Heinrich had nursed Carl through cholera and could not bear this insult. His health deteriorated rapidly. When Carl learned of this sad state of affairs, he relented and promised to provide the monthly pension while Heinrich lived, and to continue to send half to his widow in the event of death. Although Heinrich Heine lived for 8 more years, he was never restored to good health.

Heinrich Heine Contemporaries
Aleksandr Pushkin
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Thomas Hood
William Maginn

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