Nights on Lake Como by Stefan Zweig

translated by William Ruleman (June 2014)


What do you take from these starry nights,

O heart, in all your disarray?

Yes, what do you take from their delights

To guide you on your path by day?


What did you feel when, in the pale

Pond’s shell, its silver overswelled;

When, deep within the resting vale,

A trembling stream of starlight welled?


Can it slip into shadow, as over the ring

Of hills, a white flash passed (night’s noon),

And, as the rushing bluish wing

Of a cloud clung round the moon?


Can it shatter, like the silent blooms

That softly waft their heated prayer

Over the villas’ rich doors and rooms

To your breathing heart in the late-night air?


Can it quiver too, as, softer, lighter,

(A sinking string of pearls or lace),

The moon’s gleam over the rocking water

Fled for the dark without a trace?                 


Is nothing left of the whispering spray

Of the cypresses along the shore,

Not one of your dream thoughts that would stray

Along your round for an hour or more?


Perhaps but a verse of the wind in its reeling

And pure longing for that time that could bless

Like fragrance lost in a gentle feeling

Of inexpressible tenderness.




William Ruleman’s renderings of two of Zweig’s early novellas, as well as selected stories, were published in 2010 by Ariadne Press, while Ruleman’s translation of his later story “Die Frau und die Landschaft” is due to appear in the spring issue of the British journal Tears in the Fence. Aside from Zweig, he enjoys working with other poets of the German language, the results being featured most recently in The Deronda ReviewAALitra ReviewThe Sonnet ScrollThe RecusantThe Galway Review, and Atavic Poetry. He teaches creative writing and literature at Tennessee Wesleyan College, where he is Professor of English.


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