A Meeting
Under the linden the music is gay,
The couples are gossiping loudly
And two are dancing whom nobody knows,
They carry themselves so proudly.
Now here, now there, they glide and sway
In wave-like measures beguiling.
They bow to each other, and as they nod,
She whispers, gently smiling:
"A water-pink is hanging from
Your cap, my fair young dancer;
It only grows in the depths of the sea-
You are no mortal man, sir.
"You are a merman, and to lure
These village maids your wish is.
I knew you at once by your watery eyes
And your teeth as sharp as the fishes'."
Now here, now there, they glide and sway
In wave-like measures beguiling.
They bow to each other, and as they nod,
He answers, gently smiling:
Your hand's so cold and shiny~
And why is the border of your gown
So damp and draggled and briny?
"1 knew you at once by your watery eyes,
And your bow so mocking and tricksy
You're never a daughter of earth, my dear;
You are my cousin, the nixie."
The fiddles are silent, the dancing is done;
They part with a ripple of laughter.
They know each other too well, and will try
To avoid such a meeting hereafter.

Heinrich Hein