The HyperTexts

David B. Gosselin

David Bellemare Gosselin is a student of classics and languages based in Montreal. He speaks five languages, including Arabic and Italian. His poems, translations, and essays can be read on, where he publishes and promotes 21st century classical poetry along with his translations of Dante, Schiller, Goethe, et al.

The Foggy Peaks

The peaks were barely seen that night—they hid
Among a sea of aster-painted clouds.

The skies were filled with stars that shone like pearls
Strewn on the shoals of treasure-laden isles.

The sage and pupil journeyed on, although
Beholding neither earthly fields below

Nor mountains rearing with their jagged crests
Into the time-exempted floods above.

“But how are we to make our way, or know
In which directions we should choose to go?”

Questioned the student as he waded through
The unshorn clouds that whirled about their waists.

“How can we find our way out of this world
Master—it seems a tenfold mystery?”

The sage continued through the cloudy flood,
Though he could neither see his feet below

Nor catch sight of the craggy trails that formed
The stair on which they made their slow ascent.

The sage paused solemnly before the clouds—
“We'll never know unless we carry on.”

“Besides, all that we know are mysteries.”
Like clouds, the sage and pupil drifted on.

The Mountain Wood
By David Gosselin
A sage and pupil made their way 
Into a deep and darkened wood. 
They searched and wandered places 
Where, for years, no traveler would.
The underbrush, the damp-cool swamps
And thorny vines delayed their climb; 
And countless unknown fruits hung from 
The alpine trees of mountain climes.
“One must be cautious when he treads
The mountain wood,” the master said, 
“This place is seldom journeyed through— 
It fills the city folk with dread.”
Time after time the frightened boy
Had asked him, “Master, are we there?”
“The climb is bitter but the fruits
Are sweet,” was all the sage declared.
The trek went on for many days, 
Without a destination reached.
The student’s eyes filled with despair—
The forest had been barely breached.
But after many haunted moons,
And after many darkened trails
The student’s eyes filled with sheer dread, 
Like those of men whose courage fails.
Though unfazed by the boy’s laments, 
The master stopped and calmly stood 
Amid the forest mists and said,
“There is no shortcut through this wood.”

Wanderer’s Night Song II
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
translation by David B. Gosselin

Over the hilltops
Is quietness,
And in the treetops
There's hardly a sigh;
The birds are soundless in the forest.
With patience abide―
You too will rest.

Translation © David B. Gosselin

Through the fields of solitude
by Hermann Allmers
translation by David B. Gosselin with Michael R. Burch

Peacefully, I rest in the tall green grass
For a long time only gazing as I lie,
Caught in the endless hymn of crickets,
And encircled by a wonderful blue sky.

And the lovely white clouds floating across
The depths of the heavens are like silky lace;
I feel as though I have long been dead,
Softly drifting with them through eternal space.

Translation © David B. Gosselin

In the beautiful month of May
by Heinrich Heine
translation by David B. Gosselin

In the beautiful month of May
When the flowers began springing
Within my youthful heart
Love suddenly bloomed.

In the beautiful month of May
When all the birds were singing
I confessed to her
My yearning and my longing.

Translation © David B. Gosselin

Death is the cooling night
by Heinrich Heine
translation by David B. Gosselin

Death is the cooling night,
Life is the sultry day.
But now darkness settles
And I long for respite.

Outside my bedroom window looms a tree;
In it sings the young Nightingale.
She sings only of Love―
Even in dreams, it reaches me.

Translation © David B. Gosselin

Stanchen (Serenade)
by Ludwig Rellstab
set to music by Frans Schubert
translation by David B. Gosselin

My songs drift through the dark night,
Searching for you.
Find me in the tranquil grove, love—
I'll wait for you.

The gentle fronds of rustling trees
Whirl in the moonlight.
Here, there will be no more betrayals—
We'll be free tonight.

Do you hear the sad nightingales,
Singing where they hide?
Hear their melancholy music—
Let them be your guide.

Knowing what the human heart needs,
They comfort each breast
With the soothing sound of silv'ry streams—
Peace for the oppressed.

Let the love in your heart be free,
Darling—listen to me!
I await you here, trembling!
Come, enrapture me.

Translation © David B. Gosselin

Modern Dreams III

I dreamt an endless dream;
I dreamt my dreams had ceased.

I dreamt the darkest dream;
I dreamt of blinding light.

I dreamt I was a fool;
I dreamt that I was wise.

I dreamt I spoke in tongues;
I dreamt I found the Words.

I dreamt I lost it all;
I dreamt of victory.

I dreamt all was forgot;
I dreamt I knew it all.

I dreamt my life away;
I dreamt my dreams were true.

I dreamt I met life’s end;
I dreamt it just began.

I dreamt that I was lost;
I dreamt of being found.

Modern Dreams VI

The opposite of dark is light;
The opposite of light is dark.

The opposite of day is night;
The opposite of night is day.

The opposite of strong is weak;
The opposite of weak is strong.

The opposite of life is death;
The opposite of death is life.

The opposite of dreams is sleep;
The opposite of sleep is dreams.

The opposite of love is fear;
The opposite of fear is love.

Modern Dreams V

The dreams I dreamt have been forgotten now;
A vision has replaced my nascent dreams.

The fears I had, have long since vanished now;
A sea of sighs now drowns my mortal dreams.

This mortal tongue—this oracle—its curse
Casts blackened veils upon my sweetest dreams.

The sweetest vices sin could ever conceive
Were not as sweet as my forgotten dreams.

And sweeter still than any vice conceived,
Than Nero dancing on his cloud of dreams

Or Dido weeping under Afric’s skies—
Too sad — too precious for her Tyrian dreams.

Apollo scared the flesh from Daphne’s form,
But when she breathed — her breath was light as dreams.

Once, young Adonis told fair Venus lies—
Their love was fresh and fled like mortal dreams.

Oh how I wish sin could conceive of vice
Far sweeter than these nights' forgotten dreams.

Modern Dreams XVII: Fresh-Picked Roses

A rose is lying in the summer mud—
Its dew still fresh from when it fell last night.

A phoenix sinks into a sea of sands—
The midnight's skies shine brighter still than day.

It’s true, a comet burns just once and then
It fades and scatters over cosmic seas.

So Hector too once breathed a final breath
Then like a comet vanished in the depths.

A boy is dreaming on a backyard swing;
He smells the lilacs but he picks a rose;

The boy has dreams, some dark, some bright, some light
And pure like laurel sprigs or mountain streams.

He picked the rose—its beauty unsurpassed;
He picked her though he feared her thorns—he had

A fear of fear itself, a love of love—
The love of other and the love of self.

The rose we place inside our lover’s hands
Is like the dreams we place in our own hands.

When fresh-picked roses are placed in one’s hands;
Our dearest hopes and dreams are placed there too.

Dreams too—like roses and like love have thorns,
But oh, the joy of picking our own rose.

Modern Dreams XVIII: Lay Down Your Armor

Lay down your armor
And play for me your precious lyre;
And let me hear
Your deepest dreams and frail desires.            

Lay down your armor
And play for me your gentle lyre;  
And share with me
The story of your precious pains.

Lay down your armor
And share your sweetest dreams with me;
And tell me who
You saw within those deepest dreams.

Lay down your armor
And play for me your thespian lay;
And show me why
A mortal tongue is sweeter than a lyre.

Lay down your armor
And play for me a song and share
Your lovely griefs—
The dolorous nights you spent in dreams.

Lay down your armor
And play for me your little lyre;
And show me why
The world’s less real than our desire.

Lay down your armor
And pluck for me your dainty strings;
And tell me why
A dream’s more real than is the world.

Lay down your armor
And play once more your precious lyre;
And show me why
The world can fade, but not our dreams.

Lay down your armor
And let us dream a little while
—Dreams without end—
I’ll walk with you through every dream.

Lilacs in the Rain
by David B. Gosselin

I find myself once again in the garden
Where I used to play as a child
When a thousand flowery faces would greet me,
All of them lovely and wild.

The lavender would serenely sway,
Bequeathing her fragrance to the air,
Until gentle winds swept it away
Like a child laughing, free of care.

Dew would star the rose’s delicate calyx,
Staining its crown of verdant sepals,
Till May arrived with her brilliant rains
And spring appeared in a thousand petals.

But of all the flowery faces there
These stood out more than any others:
The spring Lilacs – dancing in a gentle breeze
Like a host of frolicking lovers.

Their fragrant offerings tempted me
As I’ve never been tempted again,
And I felt something I'd never felt before
Amid those Lilacs in the rain.

For the soft spring-time showers distilled
To an understanding that left me cold:
How even the sweetest things must die
As we grow old.

And so I wept on that beautiful morning,
My tears falling through the perfumed air,
At the faces of friends who welcomed me
With the larks' songs ringing everywhere.

May the beauties of May greet me again!
May they flood my soul with a precious pain—
May the briefness of their beauty haunt me
Like those Lilacs in the rain.

Modern Dreams
by David B. Gosselin

The dreams I had have been forgotten now—
The dreams I once believed I knew were true—
The dreams I know will haunt me every day—
The dreams I dreamt about just yesterday—
The dreams that I will not forget this day—
These dreams have changed my every way—
These dreams I dream will shape the future’s day—
The dreams I hope to tell someone someday—
The dreams I won’t forget to dream each day—
The dreams I’ll always be afraid to say—
The dreams I know I’ll pray for everyday—
The dreams I wish could somehow find their way—
The dreams I know I’ll dream of night and day—
The dreams so deep that I can never hope
To see the day when I would know just how to tell
How much our dreams soar high above all things
That we small specs of dust can see or say.

Chinese Mountain Man: The Night Sky
by David B. Gosselin

Trekking among the steep defiles,
Trailed by the sage, a young boy tried
To use the stars, in hopes
Of finding some path or some guide
To help him climb the rocky slopes.

They walked among a sea of fog
Which stalked them now for many nights
And left them wandering like ghosts
Amid the unfamiliar heights—
Without a guide or friendly hosts.

The sage walked slowly, patiently,
He held his head low, and seldom raised
His gaze to watch the stars or moon.
Hidden beneath his hood, lonesome,
The boy asked, “Will we be there soon?”

Who knows how long those travellers
Had wandered through that craggy world;
How many caves and grots and chasms
Crossed as the haunting shadows whirled—
How many unearthly phantasms?

“Let’s keep the pace,” the master said
While looking down and walking straight
Ahead without making a sound.
Although the master kept his pace,
The weary pupil soon slowed down.

He stopped and turned towards the sky,
Hoping to find some lucky star.
Walking amid the starry chorus,
The cowled sage paused, removed his hood,
Then gazed, “Sometimes the stars find us.”

Follow the Mountain Man series here.

Nacht und Traume (Night and Dreams)
by Matthäus von Collin (1779-1824)
translation by David B. Gosselin

Holy night, descending softly,
Descending, too, are our dreams,
Like moonlight through a darkened room,
Through the depths of a man's breast.
He listens with elation;
When Night starts to fade, he cries:
Come back, holy night,
Return, sweetest dreams, return!

Translation © David B. Gosselin

Listen to Schubert’s musical setting of this poem here.

Regenlied (The Rain Song)
by Klaus Groth (1819-1899)
translation by David B. Gosselin

Fall rain, fall upon this old world,
And wake deep inside me the dreams
That I dreamt when I was a child,
When rain would wet the golden sand.

When the sultry summer breezes
Frolicked through the evening coolness
And the morning's dewy leaves thawed,
When the crops shone a darker blue.

What a joy to stand in the rain
With our bare and naked feet,
To reach down into the wet grass
And touch the fresh foam with one's hand.

Or to feel the cool descending
Showers as they greet our warm cheeks;
To bear our youth's bosom once more
As sweet perfume fills the soft air.

Like the rose's calyx trickling
With rain, my soul respires;
Like the flowers drunk with fragrance,
Drowning in the heavenly dew.

I would love to hear it once more—
The sound of the soft rain pattering
As my soul is graciously bedewed
With a holy child-like awe.

Translation © David B. Gosselin

Listen to Brahms’ musical setting of this poem here.

Immer Leise Wird Mein Schlummer
by Hermann Lingg

My sleep grows ever more gentle,
Only my sorrow, like a veil,
Trembles over me.
I hear you often in my dreams,
Standing at my door, calling me –
But no one answers, it seems.
I wake up and weep bitterly.

Death begins to rear his pale head;
You’ll kiss again when I'm long dead,
And safe in my tomb.
Before the May wind returns,
Before warblers call the moon,
If your heart for my kiss yearns,
Come, oh come soon.

Translation © David B. Gosselin

Listen to Brahms’ musical setting of this poem here.

Im Fruhling (In Spring)
by Ernst Schulze
translation by David B. Gosselin

I sit here lonely on a hill
Where skies are clear and blue;
The sunset casts a glowing veil
Over the deep and tranquil dale—
I used to love this view.

I walked with my beloved there,
She was so close, so dear.
I saw within the mountain streams,
In sky and clouds, like passing dreams,
Her face so crystal clear.

And see, how spring already shines
From each young bud and bloom!
Though each is not the same to me.
The branch she plucked so gracefully
Would be the one I’d choose.

So all is as it was before,
Each bud and flowery scene.
The sun is just as bright today
And just as peacefully, the sky
Appears within the stream.

Illusions and our will must change,
Our luck can fade tomorrow;
The joy of love will one day fly
But still our true love cannot die—
Our love, alas, and sorrow.

If only I could be a bird,
Perched and sharing my song.
I’d settle there so quietly
And sing for her a melody
That lasts all summer long.

Translation © David B. Gosselin

Listen to Schubert’s musical setting of this poem here.

Von Ewige Liebe
by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben
Set to music by Brahms
translation by David B. Gosselin

So dark, so dark the willow forests loom,
The skies are wintered and the evening hushed.

Now neither shroud nor light nor vapors rise,
The songster neither sings his ode nor flies.

A young man walks the village thoroughfare,
And escorts his fiancé back to her home.

They walk right past the wild willow wood,
Discussing and confessing many things.

“If you feel shame about our love amid
The eyes of other friends or your own kin,

“Then let our love be shorn to shreds,
As swiftly as we first had made our vows.

“Departing through the rain and wind, we’ll part,
As swiftly as we first had made our vows.”

His lovely young fiancé then responds,
“There is no chance our love can be undone”

Steel is strong, iron does not bend or break,
But who shall bend or break our love?

Iron and steel will succumb to the forge –
But not our love, neither to pain nor fire.

Translation © David B. Gosselin

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