The Young Maid
Dedicated to Ludwig von Ficker
Often at the well when it dawns
You see her standing spellbound
Scooping water when it dawns.
Buckets go up and down.
In the beech trees jackdaws flutter
And she resembles a shadow.
Her yellow hair flutters
And rats scream in the yard.
And enticed by decay
She lowers her inflamed eyelids.
Parched grass in decay
Bends at her feet.
She works silently in the chamber
And the yard lies long desolate.
In the elder trees by the chamber
A blackbird flutes pitifully.
Silver, her image in the mirror
Looks at her, alien in the twilight-glow,
And fades ashen in the mirror
And she shudders before its purity.
Dreamlike a farm boy sings in the darkness
And she stares shaken with pain.
Redness trickles through the darkness.
Suddenly at the gate the south wind shakes.
Nightly over the barren meadow
She totters in feverish dreams.
Morosely the wind whines in the meadow
And the moon listens from the trees.
Soon all around the stars pale
And exhausted from complaints
Her waxen cheeks pale.
Putrefaction is scented from the earth.
Sadly the reeds rustle by the pond
And crouched, she freezes.
Far away a cock crows. Above the pond
Morning shivers hard and grey.
In the smithy a hammer
Clangs and she scurries past the gate.
In red glow the farm boy swings the hammer
And deathlike she looks over there.
As in a dream she's struck by his laughter;
And she reels into the smithy,
Shyly cowering before his laughter,
Like the hammer hard and coarse.
Brightly in the room sparks
Spray and with helpless gestures
She snatches after the wild sparks
And falls dazed to the earth.
Slenderly sprawled across the bed
She wakes filled with sweet tremblings
And she sees her soiled bed
Hidden by a golden light,
Mignonettes there at the window
And the bluish brightness of sky.
Sometimes the wind carries to the window
The hesitant tinkling of a bell.
Shadows glide over the pillow,
Noon strikes slowly
And she breathes heavily on the pillow
And her mouth is like a wound.
In the evening bloody linens
Float like clouds over silent forests
Wrapped in black linens.
Sparrows fuss in the fields.
And completely white, she lies in darkness.
Under the roof a cooing wafts away.
Like carrion in bush and darkness,
Flies swirl around her mouth.
Dreamlike in the brown hamlet
A sound of dance and fiddles echoes,
Her countenance floats through the hamlet,
Her hair blows in bare branches.
© Jim Doss & Werner Schmitt