Early Works of Karl Marx: Book of Verse

The Pale Maiden

A Ballad

The maiden stands so pale,
So silent, withdrawn,
Her sweet angelic soul
Is misery-torn.

Therein can shine no ray,
The waves tumble over;
There, love and pain both play,
Each cheating the other.

Gentle was she, demure,
Devoted to Heaven,
An image ever pure
The Graces had woven.

Then came a noble knight,
A grand charger he rode;
And in his eyes so bright
A sea of love flowed.

Love smote deep in her breast,
But he galloped away,
For battle-triumph athirst;
Naught made him stay.

All peace of mind is flown,
The Heavens have sunk.
The heart, now sorrow's throne,
Is yearning-drunk.

And when the day is past,
She kneels on the floor,
Before the holy Christ
A-praying once more.

But then upon that form
Another encroaches,
To take her heart by storm,
'Gainst her self reproaches.

"To me your love is given
For Time unending.
To show your soul to Heaven
Is merely pretending."

She trembles in her terror
Icy and stark,
She rushes out in horror,
Into the dark.

She wrings her lily-white hands,
The tear-drops start.
"Thus fire the bosom brands
And longing, the heart.

"Thus Heaven I've forfeited,
    I know it full well.
    My soul, once true to God,
    Is chosen for Hell.

He was so tall, alas,
Of stature divine.
His eyes so fathomless,
So noble, so fine.

"He never bestowed on me
His glances at all;
Lets me pine hopelessly
    Till the end of the Soul.

"Another his arm may press,
May share his pleasure;
Unwitting, he gives me distress
Beyond all measure.

"With my soul willingly,
With my hopes I'd part,
Would he but look towards me
And open his heart.

"How cold must the Heavens be
Where he doesn't shine,
A land full of misery
    And burning with pain.

"But here the surging flood
May deliver me, cooling
The hot fire of heart's blood,
The bosom's feeling."

She leaps with all her might
Into the spray.
Into the cold dark night
She's carried away.

Her heart, that burning brand,
Is quenched forever;
Her look, that luminous land,
Is clouded over.

Her lips, so sweet and tender,
Are pale and colourless;
Her form, aethereal, slender,
Drifts into nothingness.

And not a withered leaf
Falls from the bough;
Heaven and Earth are deaf,
Won't wake her now.

By mountain, valley, on
The quiet waves race,
To dash her skeleton
On a rocky place.

The Knight so tall and proud
Embraces his new love,
The cithern sings about
The joys of True Love!