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Translation From Schiller: The Diver
by [?]


“Which of you, knight or squire, will dare
Plunge into yonder gulf?
A golden beaker I fling in it–there!
The black mouth swallows it like a wolf!
Who brings me the cup again, whoever,
It is his own–he may keep it for ever!”

Tis the king who speaks; and he flings from the brow
Of the cliff, that, rugged and steep,
Hangs out o’er the endless sea below,
The cup in the whirlpool’s howling heap:–
“Again I ask, what hero will follow?
What brave heart plunge into yon dark hollow?”

The knights and the squires, the king about,
Hear him, and dumbly stare
Into the wild sea’s tumbling rout;
But to win the beaker, they hardly care!
The king, for the third time, round him glaring–
“Not a soul of you has the daring?”

Speechless all, as before, they stand:
When a vassal bold, gentle, and gay,
Steps out from his comrades’ shrinking band,
Flinging his girdle and cloak away;
And all the women and men that surrounded
Gazed on the grand-looking youth, astounded.

And when he stepped to the rock’s rough brow
Looking down on the gulf so black,
The waters which it had swallowed, now
Charybdis bellowing rendered back;
And, with a roar as of distant thunder,
Foaming they burst from the dark lap under.

It wallows, seethes, hisses, in raging rout,
As when water wrestles with fire,
Till to heaven the yeasty tongues they spout;
And flood upon flood keeps mounting higher:
It will never its endless coil unravel,
As the sea with another sea were in travail!

But, at last, slow sinks the writhing spasm,
And, black through the foaming white,
Downward gapes a yawning chasm–
Bottomless, cloven to hell’s wide night;
And, sucked up, see the billows roaring
Down through the whirling funnel pouring!

Then in haste, ere the out-rage return again,
The youth to his God doth pray,
And–ascends a cry of horror and pain–
Already the vortex hath swept him away!
And o’er the bold swimmer, in darkness eternal,
Close the great jaws of the gulf infernal!

Then the water above grows smooth as glass,
While, below, dull roarings ply;
And, trembling, they hear the murmur pass–
“High-hearted youth, farewell! good-bye!”
And, hollower still, comes the howl affraying,
Till their hearts are sick with the frightful delaying.

If the crown itself thou in should fling,
And say, “Who back with it hies
Himself shall wear it, and shall be king,”
I should not covet the precious prize!
What Ocean hides in that howling hell of it,
Live soul will never come back to tell of it!

Ships many, caught in that whirling surge,
Shot sheer to their dismal doom:
Keel and mast only did ever emerge,
Shattered, from out the all-gulping tomb!–
Like the bluster of tempest, clearer and clearer,
Comes its roaring nearer and ever nearer!

It wallows, seethes, hisses, in raging rout,
As when water wrestles with fire,
Till to heaven the yeasty tongues they spout,
Wave upon wave’s back mounting higher;
And as with the rumble of distant thunder
Bellowing it bursts from the dark lap under.

And see, from its bosom, flowing dark,
Something heave up, swan-white!
An arm and a shining neck they mark,
And it rows with unrelaxing might!
It is he! and aloft in his left hand holden,
He swings, recovered, the beaker golden!

With long deep breaths his path he ploughed,
Glad greeting the heavenly day;
Jubilant shouted the gazing crowd,
“He lives! he is free! he has burst his way!
Out of the grave, the whirlpool uproarious,
The hero hath rescued his life victorious!”