The Mirror Image
Gazing out at me from the glass,
With your eyes’ misty orblets,
Like comets that are dimming;
With features, wherein two souls like spies
Around each other strangely prowl,
Well, then I whisper:
Phantom, you are not my peer!
You’ve but slipped from dreams’ custody,
To turn to ice my live warm blood,
To make pallid my dark locks;
And, for all that, you dawning face,
A dual light within strangely plays.
Were you to step forward, I know not;
Would I love or hate you?
To the ruler’s throne of your brow,
Where thoughts all pay their homage
Like minions, shyly would I peer;
Yet from the eye’s cold lustre,
So full of dead light, all but diffracted,
So ghostly; I, shy guest, would draw
My footstool so far, far away.
That smile around your mouth so mild,
So soft and helpless like a child,
I would shelter in faithful wardenship;
Then again, when it mockingly plays,
Aiming as from the bended bow,
When quiet all its lines displays,
Then flee would I, as before henchmen.
It is for sure, you are not I,
An alien being whom I approach
Like Moses, not wearing shoes,
Filled with forces to me unknown,
Filled with sorrow strange, strange desire;
God have mercy on me, if in my heart
Your soul rests slumbering there!
And yet I feel, as though related,
Myself spellbound by your thrills,
And love must needs unite with fear.
Yes; were you, O phantom, to step
From glass’s circle to the ground,
But gently shiver would I, and
Methinks – weep I would for you!
Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, 1797-1848